“It’s like Grindr for straight people.” It was a balmy Brooklyn night and my friend Will was telling me about the new hook-up app on his iPhone, the Beta version he proudly informed me. “I wonder how many angel investors suffered through that pitch,” I replied, grabbing his phone. Little did I know that as I scrolled through the catalog of blondes, redheads, and brunettes, more was at risk for Will than just a bad date.
In fact, a report released on Wednesday reveals that anyone using Tinder had access to our exact whereabouts.
Tinder is alluringly superficial — a catalog of tiny faces of the opposite sex that Tinderers ajudge with a “heart” or an “x” (aka a yes or a nope). Lazy users can also just send the nopes into oblivion with a swipe of the finger. When two Tinderers heart one another, a connection is made enabling them to chat and decide whether to meet nearby for a tete-a-tete. That’s the other thing about the app – the geographic desirability of all the tiny faces. It uses location input so that users in the nearest vicinity are the ones that appear on the screen.
Include Security, a private company that conducts unsolicited security assessments of popular software applications, reported this week that from as early as July 2013, Tinder was releasing telemetry data that could approximate the location of its users within 100 feet via triangulation. So basically if somebody had wanted to know exactly where Will was that night, they’d just need three Tinder profiles at different locations to pinpoint us right there at the Goldenrod on Smith Street.
So far we’ve heard no reports of users actually being located or stalked as a result of the error, which reportedly was resolved even before the report was released. However, it is without a doubt that Tinder took far too much latitude when it came to protecting user’s location data.