Grindr Stops Sharing HIV Status of Users with Third-Party Vendors

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The company made the change after a report by BuzzFeed revealed that the private information was being shared with app optimization vendors.

Gay dating app Grindr will stop sharing data about its users' HIV status, the company said Monday, after a backlash erupted over a BuzzFeed News report that revealed the private information was being shared with third-party analytics companies. 

"As a company that serves the LGBTQ community, we understand the sensitivities around HIV status disclosure," Grindr CTO Scott Chen said in a statement. "Our goal is and always has been to support the health and safety of our users worldwide." 

On Monday, BuzzFeed reported that Grindr had been sharing data about its users, including HIV status, with third-party vendors Apptimize and Localytics. Because the data was paired with information including users' email addresses, it could be matched with specific users, the report revealed.

Grindr security chief Bryce Case told Axios that the company had stopped sharing the HIV status of its users with third-party vendors. But he also said that Grindr encrypted the data, meaning it wouldn't have been possible to match it with specific users. "It's conflating an issue and trying to put us in the same camp, where we really don't belong," he told Axios.

"Any information we provide to our software vendors, including HIV status information, is encrypted, and at no point did we share sensitive information like HIV status with advertisers," Case said. He went on to say that "any information related to HIV status has been removed from Apptimize, and we are in the process of discussing removal of this data from Localytics."

In the wake of the disclosure that Facebook had allowed the private data of more than 50 million users to be collected by analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, there has been increased scrutiny over the privacy practices of popular technology companies. 

In a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Chen stressed that "Grindr has never, nor will we ever, sell personally identifiable user information — especially information regarding HIV status or last test date — to third parties or advertisers."