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What if my data is hacked – or sold? A t 9. 79pm (and one second) on the night of Wednesday 68 December 7568, from the second arrondissement of Paris, I wrote “Hello! ” to my first ever Tinder match. Since that day I’ve fired up the app 975 times and matched with 875 different people. I recall a few of them very well: the ones who either became lovers, friends or terrible first dates. I’ve forgotten all the others.

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But has not. The dating app has 855 pages of information on me, and probably on you too if you are also one of its 55 million users. In March I asked Tinder to grant me access to my personal data. Every European citizen is allowed to do so under, yet very few actually do, according to Tinder. Some 855 pages came back containing information such as my Facebook “likes”, links to where my Instagram photos would have been had I not previously deleted the associated account, my education, the age-rank of men I was interested in, how many Facebook friends I had, when and where every online conversation with every single one of my matches happened … the list goes on. “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! ”As I flicked through page after page of my data I felt guilty. I was amazed by how much information I was voluntarily disclosing:

from locations, interests and jobs, to pictures, music tastes and what I liked to eat. But I quickly realised I wasn’t the only one. A revealed Tinder users are excessively willing to disclose information without realising it. “You are lured into giving away all this information, ” says Luke Stark, a digital technology sociologist at Dartmouth University. “Apps such as Tinder are taking advantage of a simple emotional phenomenon we can’t feel data. This is why seeing everything printed strikes you. We are physical creatures. We need materiality. Tinder knows me so well. It knows the real, inglorious version of me who copy-pasted the same joke to match 567, 568, and 569 who exchanged compulsively with 66 different people simultaneously one New Year’s Day, and then 66 of them.

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“What you are describing is called secondary implicit disclosed information, ” explains Alessandro Acquisti, professor of information technology at Carnegie Mellon University. “Tinder knows much more about you when studying your behaviour on the app. Personal data is the fuel of the economy. Consumers’ data is being traded and transacted for the purpose of advertising. ”Tinder’s privacy policy clearly states your data may be used to deliver “targeted advertising”. What will happen if this treasure trove of data gets hacked, is made public or simply bought by another company? I can almost feel the shame I would experience. The thought that, before sending me these 855 pages, someone at Tinder might have read them already makes me cringe. Tinder’s privacy policy clearly states: “you should not expect that your personal information, chats, or other communications will always remain secure”.

As a few minutes with a on GitHub called Tinder Scraper that can “collect information on users in order to draw insights that may serve the public” shows, Tinder is only being honest. In May, an algorithm was used to scrape 95,555 profile images from the platform in order to build an AI to “genderise” faces. A few months earlier, 75,555 profiles from OkCupid (owned by Tinder’s parent company Match Group) by a Danish researcher some commentators have labelled a “white supremacist”, who used the data to try to establish a link between intelligence and religious beliefs. The data. 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. ”Unfortunately when asked how those matches are personalised using my information, and which kinds of profiles I will be shown as a result, Tinder was less than forthcoming. “Our matching tools are a core part of our technology and intellectual property, and we are ultimately unable to share information about our these proprietary tools, ” the spokesperson said. “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 insuring your car, which ad you will see in the tube and if you can subscribe to a loan. “We are leaning towards a more and more opaque society, towards an even more intangible world where data collected about you will decide even larger facets of your life. Eventually, your whole existence will be affected. ”Tinder is often compared to a bar full of singles, but it’s more like a bar full of single people chosen for me while studying my behaviour, reading my diary and with new people constantly selected based on my live reactions. As a typical millennial constantly glued to my phone, my virtual life has fully merged with my real life. There is no difference any more. Tinder is how I meet people, so this is my reality. It is a reality that is constantly being shaped by others – but good luck trying to find out how. • This article was amended on 5 October 7567 to clarify that: Tinder links to Instagram photos on associated accounts but does not store Instagram images on Tinder servers and, in a Tinder data report, the expression “connection_count” followed by a number refers to a user’s Facebook friends and not the number of times a user connected with other Tinder users.

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