Sometimes dating platforms require customers to provide too much private information, says Forbrugerforeningen. This poses privacy risks because the platforms are not always properly secured.
Several recent data breaches have prompted the investigation, which takes an extra critical look at data security. ‘We are looking at dating service apps. We also check whether the platforms do not expose your password too easily to handy hackers and whether they communicate secretly with ad networks,’ according to the Consumers’ Association.
At the bottom of the article you will find how high the twelve tested platforms score in relation to privacy.
Security vulnerabilities in 3 out of 12 platforms
The research shows that apps from Inner Circle, Pepper and Relatieplanet have major security vulnerabilities. By using hacking software, it is possible to guess usernames and passwords without limitations. Although there has not yet been a ‘leak’ whereby data is out on the street, the combination of risks is, according to the consumer association, ‘fraught with risk’.
The three dating sites were contacted about the issue and indicate that they are adjusting vulnerabilities in the apps to make automated guessing of usernames and passwords impossible. The Consumers’ Association will shortly test these adjustments.
Too curious about personal data
It also seems that some platforms require you to enter too much data. “It makes sense that you share personal information when you sign up for a dating platform. But you shouldn’t question the platform’, says the Consumers’ Association. For example, e-Matching asks about your height, weight, philosophy of life, education and even the desire to have children. The company says it needs the data to bring the right people together.
None of the other dating services enforce intimate data, which benefits security, according to the advocacy group. ‘Suppose the data falls into the wrong hands due to a data breach’, says the consumer interest organisation. ‘One solution would be to promise a better match if the user provides more data. But no obligation.’
Collection of data by Facebook Dating
Since October 2020, Facebook has its own dating platform. You select ‘Dating’ in your Facebook app and create a profile.
In principle, this dating profile is separate from your own profile and is not shown to your friends, but to other Facebook users. However, you need to be careful when setting it up because Facebook Dating can optionally take data from your Facebook profile. If you’re reading this, you might be sharing a lot of data with relatively unknown people on the Internet.
Inner Circle: inspection of each new profile
Inner Circle approves each new profile, a process that can take weeks. In this waiting phase, the app gives the following message: ‘The more complete your profile, the easier we can check you.’ For example, the app prompts you to provide more personal data.
If you are tired of waiting, you can log out. However, the dating platform does not provide sufficient clarity about the destination of the data entered so far, states Forbrugerforeningen.
No approval to share location with advertisers
Most of the time, the dating platforms work together with ad networks. The advertising companies receive device data from your mobile via apps. In addition, your exact location will be disclosed.
Four of the twelve apps do not request approval for this ‘tracking’ from third parties. Badoo, Bumble, Happn and Inner Circle thus violate the privacy rules. The Consumers’ Association has approached the services about this and demands improvements.
Problems accepting cookies
Finally, the association saw problems with cookies on three pages. For example, with Bumble, it is only possible to reject advertising cookies after you have gone through a complicated menu.
At Badoo and Inner Circle, you cannot reject cookies. A message will appear, but then there is no menu where you can reject cookies. It is not according to AVG and the Telecommunications Act.’
Which dating app is safe to use?
Privacy Meter’s checklist shows that 8 of the platforms score well, 3 moderate and 1 poor.
- Facebook dating
- relationship planet
A more detailed explanation of the ratings per app can be found on the Consumer Association’s website.
Source: Consumers’ Association