Most people use Tinder, or other dating apps, on a daily basis to get laid and hook up with people. Rarely can you find people who are actually looking for a long-term relationship over these dating apps. We live in such an era where you can just sit on your couch, in front of your telly, and just swipe right or left and make connections with not one but multiple people at once.
It takes a few minutes to set up an account, either entering your personal details manually or just connecting through your Facebook account. And *BOOM* there you are, talking with different people and different personalities. It doesn’t require any effort put in, you are in your comfortable habitat, already setting up a date. We have all become accustomed to this lifestyle: we get whatever we want in a really short period of time.
But have you ever thought about your safety? Have you ever thought about how much do you put “out there” about yourself? The pictures, the description, locations, interests and jobs, music tastes and what you like to eat. Your conversations are not private. Tinder has it all, even your Facebook messages if you have connected through it. They can be disclosed, shared with third parties, hacked or even sold. What will happen if this treasure trove of data gets hacked, is made public or simply bought by another company?
So why does Tinder need all that information on you? “To personalise the experience for each of our users around the world,” according to a Tinder spokesperson. “Our matching tools are dynamic and consider various factors when displaying potential matches in order to personalise the experience for each of our users”.
Today, more than 50 million people use Tinder worldwide, and new research claims that nearly a quarter of Brits, exactly 24% who have previously been single and were using dating apps still continue to do so- even after they’ve started a relationship.
Guardian journalist, Judith Duportail asked Tinder to grant her access to her personal data. Every European citizen is allowed to do so under EU data protection law, yet very few actually do, according to Tinder.
With the help of privacy activist Paul-Olivier Dehaye from personaldata.io and human rights lawyer Ravi Naik, she emailed Tinder requesting her personal data and got back way more than she bargained for.
Some 800 pages came back containing information such as her Facebook “likes”, links to where her Instagram photos would’ve been had she not previously deleted the associated account, her education, the age-rank of men she was interested in, how many Facebook friends she had, when and where every online conversation with every single one of her matches happened … and the list goes on.
“Your personal data affects who you see first on Tinder, yes’”, says Dehaye. “But also what job offers you have access to on LinkedIn, how much you will pay for ensuring your car, which ad you will see in the tube and if you can subscribe to a loan.”
“I am horrified but absolutely not surprised by this amount of data,” said Olivier Keyes, a data scientist at the University of Washington. “Every app you use regularly on your phone owns the same [kinds of information]. Facebook has thousands of pages about you!”
Alessandro Acquisti, professor of information technology at Carnegie Mellon University explains: “Tinder knows much more about you when studying your behaviour on the app. It knows how often you connect and at which times; the percentage of white men, black men, Asian men you have matched; which kinds of people are interested in you; which words you use the most; how much time people spend on your picture before swiping you, and so on. Personal data is the fuel of the economy. Consumers’ data is being traded and transacted for the purpose of advertising.”
Did you know all that? Do you still feel safe?
There’s no shame anymore in saying that I’ve also tried Tinder out. I was curious what are the boys using it for. I wanted to see whether it is a myth or not that people use it only for one-night stands. Yet again, I don’t know how honest they were with me, but I asked all the 67 people I matched with.
I found there are usually 6 categories of reasons that they are using it for. From all of them, 29 boys still haven’t replied, but most of them, around 8 guys said they are using it for “fun”. This can be interpreted as it is, or for having a good time with a girl in the bed. Six of them clearly said that they are using it only for sex, one night stands and to play around with girls. Two of them said: “Because I’m single as fuck”, so they might just want to recover from a relationship or because they are bored and need attention. Only 5 people said that they want a relationship, and they are looking for their other half. The last two categories said that they want to meet new people and make friends and 4 people said they have no idea why are they using it for.
However, as I discovered the majority of boys I matched with were in their mid-twenties. Most commonly seen age was 23-24. Statistics say that the average age of those who use Tinder is 26.
So, overall I can conclude for myself that most people are using Tinder and other dating apps only to have sex, and the number of people who are actually looking for a long-term relationship is really low. People are really flirty and each conversation can turn sexual within minutes. People are not serious at all. They have only one thing in their minds, and that is sex.
Even if you are invited out for a dinner or coffee, be cautious and don’t trust strangers. Also, if you want to remain safe and you are not looking for fun or a one night stand, be selective about what you disclose about yourself, what kind of pictures you post and most importantly never expose your home address. People can track you down really easily and we don’t live in a fairy tale, unfortunately.
If you are looking for a relationship, you are not searching for one in the right place! Even if statistics say that more and more people are getting married after meeting on these dating sites, the chances of finding the love of your life are minimal.
So, why not go out there? Put your phone down, disconnect and you will eventually bump into somebody who will interest you, either at work, university or trips.
Live your lives off-line, is so much more fun and more challenging.