With Valentine’s Day looming on the horizon, it’s an ideal time to have a look at how popular dating sites and apps fare up in terms of privacy. In order to prepare this post, I reviewed the privacy policies of Match.com, OkCupid, JDate and Tinder – you’re welcome ; )
An interesting fact I came across was that several popular dating sites are part of a family of businesses that share information. For instance, Match.com and OkCupid are both part of the IAC group of companies (which also includes non-dating sites such as Ask.com, College Humor and About.com). Similarly, JDate, ChristianMingle and BlackSingles.com are all part of Spark Networks. Both IAC and Spark Networks share personal information about their users that is collected from a particular member site with other entities in the same family. But that’s just the beginning…
Third-party platforms offer an additional source of information. For example, if a user accesses Match.com, OkCupid or Tinder through Facebook, information from the user’s Facebook profile and from cookies placed on the user’s device by Facebook may be captured. While registering through Facebook is presented as merely an option on some dating sites, those who wish to swipe right for Tinder have no choice but to register using their Facebook account. The implication of this is profound – users have no option to keep their Facebook information separate from their Tinder account.
What about communication practices? Does the platform require users to give their express consent to receiving communications through an opt-in model, or does it presume communications are desired? Each of the four platforms that I reviewed adopts an opt-out model, meaning that the provider will send communications to a user until such time that the user indicates a desire to stop receiving messages.
For the millions of users of dating sites and apps, it’s important to keep in mind that there are privacy costs to consider when setting up a profile. Just as selecting the right partner is an important choice to be made, so is determining if online dating is right for you, and if so which platform offers the privacy characteristics that you are looking for. Happy searching…