Dating apps are collecting more of your information than you think (2024)

For people in search of lasting relationships on dating apps, there’s nothing quite like matching with someone who wants to know the real you.

That kind of curiosity could signal keen interest, or at the very least, a certain social grace. But those potential partners aren’t the only curious ones in the mix: The apps you may have used to meet them might be just as hungry for your personal information.

So say researchers at the Mozilla Foundation’s Privacy Not Included project, who updated reviews of 25 of the most popular dating apps out there based on their user privacy practices, data breach track records and more. The result? 22 of those apps — including popular options like Tinder, Grindr, OkCupid, Hinge and Bumble — received the team’s “Privacy Not Included” warning label.

Those labels mean stay away, said Zoë MacDonald, a researcher who worked on the project, though she conceded that’s easier said than done.


Among other things, Mozilla’s researchers found that 80 percent of the apps they reviewed may share or sell your personal information for advertising. That’s nothing new for these kinds of companies, but it feels especially lousy because they so ardently want you to pay for additional features anyway.

Meanwhile, Jdate, Christian Mingle and EliteSingles — specialty dating services all owned by a company called Spark Networks — specifically note in their privacy policies that they may collect “sensitive” information, including your political affiliation, union memberships and your “sexual preferences and experiences.”

References to sex pop up in privacy policies from time to time, MacDonald said, but seeing a company mention collecting information about specific sexual experiences was a new one for the team.

Spark Networks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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“The nature of these products means you’re going to share a lot of personal information about yourself, and of course the dating apps say that you share that information in service of finding someone,” MacDonald said. But they “take more information than just what you’re conscious of sharing” and then use that information for purposes that aren’t going to help you find a partner.

One particularly strange example: If you’re a Coffee Meets Bagel user looking to break the ice with a match before meeting up in person, you could use the app’s video chat feature. That is, if you’re okay with the company collecting “the content and information you make available using our video chat feature.”

(The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

In fairness, Coffee Meets Bagel’s privacy policy only says it “may” collect that information — hardly a definitive statement of intent. Other companies judiciously sprinkle “mays” into their privacy policies, too. But MacDonald said you probably shouldn’t seek much comfort in the vagueness of this language.

“Whenever we see that a company is allowed to do something, or may do something, or even leave the door one crack open to do something, we have to assume the worst, ” she said.

Naturally, the people behind these apps don’t all agree with the researchers’ take.

“We unilaterally and purposefully limit the types of data we use for advertising purposes,” said a spokesperson for Match Group, which owns Tinder, Hinge and OkCupid. “In particular, we do not use sensitive data, such as sexual orientation, racial or ethnic origins, religion, or precise geolocation data for third-party advertising.”


Data privacy concerns like the ones Mozilla raised aren’t the only reason some people are turning away from dating apps. In addition to privacy issues, harassment and scams abound. About 40 percent of dating app users in North America have encountered a scam, and 20 percent have fallen for one, according to estimates from cybersecurity company Kaspersky.

In some cases, people revolt.

Users of apps including Tinder, Hinge and the League sued owner Match Group in February over what the lawsuit called a “predatory” business model — allegedly hiding potential matches from users and pressuring them to pay for premium features.

The apps encourage addictive behavior, the plaintiffs claimed, keeping users swiping in a hunt for romance that feels increasingly like a video game.

Match Group called the lawsuit “ridiculous.” But anti-dating-app sentiment has spread beyond a small group of litigious users. Nearly half of dating app users say their experience has been predominantly negative, according to research from Pew Research Center. Services that forgo swiping and messaging in favor of in-person meetups are gaining popularity in larger cities.


For some people, however, in-person dating events might not be feasible. And asking someone to stop using dating apps over privacy concerns is like asking someone to stop driving a car for the same reason, MacDonald said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

Even if you can’t give up your dating apps entirely, it’s worth taking a moment to read the reviews for the ones you rely on. You’ll get a fuller sense of the kinds of data these companies want from you and what they might do with it once they have it.

Smarter ways to use dating apps

After all that, if dating apps still feel like the least stressful, most effective way for you to make connections with new people, then go forth and flirt your heart out, but MacDonald has a few things you should keep in mind.

Treat your dating profile more like your LinkedIn. “Just understand that anything you share may be public information,” she said. “Share a little bit less, and lock down what you share.”


Let your device help protect your data. iPhones and Android devices give you the option to prevent apps from knowing your precise location or accessing your entire photo library. Use these to your advantage. You may also have the option to tell apps not to track you as you poke around on the web or in other apps, which can help safeguard your activity.

Limit your exposure. Don’t log in to your dating apps with your social media accounts, because this can give companies a way to access some of the information you’ve shared there. And resist the urge to respond to prompts from dating apps that encourage you to share more (and different kinds of) information.

Tatum Hunter contributed to this report.

Dating apps are collecting more of your information than you think (2024)


Dating apps are collecting more of your information than you think? ›

Dating apps can collect a LOT of information about you

What gets the most responses on dating apps? ›

First Message Strategy: Go For Laughs

Funny online dating messages get responses because women naturally find guys with a sense of humor attractive. It's true - scientists have proven it. But the key to having a successful opening message, of course, is actually being funny.

Why you should stay off dating apps? ›

Taking a break from dating apps can make the time you do spend on them more lighthearted and productive, therapist Monica Vermani told Insider. She said it's important to pinpoint your intentions for dating, like getting to know someone new or finding long-term companionship, before using apps or dating websites.

Do dating apps devalue human connection? ›

Studies have found that using online dating apps can have a negative impact on self-esteem and lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. Additionally, the overwhelming amount of choices presented by these apps can make it challenging to form meaningful connections.

What are dating apps doing to our brains? ›

Elias Aboujaoude, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford, says dating apps give users a “rush” that comes from receiving a like or a match. Though the exact mechanisms at play are unclear, he speculates that a dopamine-like reward pathway may be involved.

What is the actual success rate of dating apps? ›

Dating App Success Rate
  • Nearly 70% of individuals who met someone on a dating app said it led to a romantic, exclusive relationship, while 28% said it did not.
  • Individuals between ages 43 and 58 found the most success with online dating, with 72% stating that meeting on a dating app led to a romantic relationship.
Feb 19, 2024

What is the statistically best dating app? ›

Our Top-Rated Dating Apps
  • Bumble.
  • Tinder.
  • Coffee Meets Bagel.
  • Hinge.
  • Facebook Dating.
  • happn.
  • Plenty of Fish.
  • BLK.

Is it unhealthy to be on dating apps? ›

According to a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, there is a link between using dating apps and experiencing loneliness, dissatisfaction with life and feeling excluded from the world.

How often do guys check Hinge? ›

How often do users check their Hinge app? The frequency with which users check the app varies greatly, but on average, active users check Hinge 2-3 times per day.

Why do guys delete Bumble? ›

1. They've found a connection: The individual may have found someone they want to focus on, leading them to delete their profile on Tinder or Bumble. 2. No longer interested in the apps: They might have lost interest or no longer wish to use the app for some reason, prompting them to delete their profile.

What is the dark side of dating apps? ›

From identity theft to stalking, the consequences of sharing too much personal information on dating apps can extend far beyond the digital realm. Dating apps provide the perfect breeding ground for catfishing – the act of creating a fake identity to deceive others.

What is the biggest problem with dating apps? ›

Using apps even morphs into an activity in its own right, becoming less a way of meeting people and more a source of attention, validation and sexual intrigue in your pocket. Finally, dating apps encourage users to objectify each other through rapid judgment based on appearance.

Why is online dating bad for your mental health? ›

Dating sites have many pitfalls, particularly for our mental health, increasing the risk of feeling lonely, rejected, and even potentially anxiety and depression. While some dating apps are more to blame than others, trying less anxiety-provoking apps like Match, EliteSingles and eHarmony may be better for you.

What is the paradox of dating apps? ›

I believe a good reason why short-term relationships have become so prevalent is the paradox of choice - the phenomenon that states having too much choice in our everyday lives can actually overwhelm and paralyze us, instead of feeling satisfied with our final decisions.

Is online dating losing popularity? ›

But virtual love isn't a dying breed yet. As many as 46% of online daters say they've used Tinder, according to a 2023 Pew Research Center report, but annual downloads are down more than a third from the app's 2014 peak.

Who uses dating apps most? ›

About half of adults under 30 have used a dating site or app

For example, adults under 30 are far more likely than older adults to have ever used one of these sites or apps. The current survey finds that 53% of adults ages 18 to 29 say they have done so, compared with 37% of those ages 30 to 49.

How to get more responses on dating sites? ›

How to Get a Girl to Respond when Online Dating
  1. 1 Mention something you saw on her profile.
  2. 2 Bring up what you have in common.
  3. 3 Ask her an open-ended question.
  4. 4 Open with a funny pun or joke.
  5. 5 Compliment her on something other than her looks.
  6. 6 Flirt by showing your excitement.
  7. 7 Try asking her out right away.

How do you get more hits on dating apps? ›

Here they are:
  1. Use a simple bio. A few words are fine - Words that display who you really are. ...
  2. Show your personality through pictures. ...
  3. Have good-quality photos. ...
  4. Avoid too many group photos. ...
  5. Smile. ...
  6. Highlight your best features. ...
  7. Get Feedback. ...
  8. Use a professional.

What gets the most responses on Tinder? ›

Ask her an open-ended question. She'll give a longer answer if you start your question with “what” or “how.” Open-ended questions need more than a “yes” or “no” answer, so they're perfect for starting your convo. You could ask her about her day, something you saw in her profile, or a personal detail about her life.

How do you beat the dating app algorithm? ›

Provide a lot of descriptive information. It is important to convey a lot to become an attractive profile. Tinder's algorithm uses your profile to match you with other people, so the more detail about yourself and what you're looking for in a partner, the better! Be sure to include only super-expressive photos.


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