Tactical Technology Collective (TTC) is researching the online dating industry and what impact the interplay between data and dating has on users.
For the first stage of this wider project across Latin America, the Middle East and Europe, I conducted desk research as well as qualitative interviews with European users of popular dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, or OKCupid. This background research will be used towards a comparative study, with outputs across several projects at TTC. A first output (authored by Raquel Rennó) has been published in the context of TTC’s Our Data Our Selves project.
The desk-based proportion of this research on dating apps focused on what types of data popular dating apps collect about their users, what their privacy policies say about the use of that data and how they may share it across other platforms and services, and how these apps are linked with social media platforms, for example when requiring sign-up via a Facebook account. In addition to reviewing the literature on dating apps and app providers’ policy documents, it also surveyed legal cases involving the use of dating apps and other incidents where data from dating apps has been used for research, art or other purposes in ways that raise ethical questions.
The qualitative interviews then aimed at learning more about how users of dating apps assess potential risks to their safety and privacy when using dating apps, how they mitigate against these risks, and how gender, gender identity and sexual orientation may affect their experience with dating apps.