The new GDPR rules have now made it possible to request any data a company has collected and stored on you. This is data that you had previously provided to the company at your own will. For most companies like Google and Facebook, you can access all the data you used to create your personality profile, but what about dating apps such as Tinder?
Given the almost proprietary way Tinder treats the information you provide them, it makes sense to understand exactly what sort of data they collect and store on you. It is also important to know how you can request the data they have on you. Unfortunately, any attempt to access the data Tinder has on you is an uphill task. They make it quite difficult to find anything beyond the usual bare-minimum content such as your profile info, sent messages, and images. However, just know that this data is just the tip of the data iceberg. Tinder seems to be holding a lot more information about you than they are leading on.
The Sheer Amount of Data That Tinder Collects and Stores
In a Guardian article published in 2017, a contributor and Tinder user, Judith Duportail, used the provisions of the GDPR data protection laws to request for all the data Tinder had on their servers about her and was more than surprised to receive 800 pages of the most intimate data about her love life. Tinder, which boasts of over 50 million users worldwide, had more information about her than she actually knew.
So how does a smartphone app know more about you than you actually do? How do they collect all that data? Well, you actually give them all the information they collect and save about your personal and intimate life, knowingly or unknowingly. Tinder is able to collect all this data by keeping track of all your interactions with users of the dating platform.
For example, the Tinder app records everything you do when you visit another Tinder user’s profile. In fact, they essentially recording every touch, every swipe that you do while using their app. According to Judith’s experience, Tinder records all the locations from which you access the app, all your likes and dislikes in personal things like music and food, your educational and professional backgrounds, and even the data you have publicly available in other social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook. Tinder has many ways of collecting all your personal data including your most intimate moments. This is the kind of information most corporations and major online merchants selling consumer goods and services would really love to lay their hands on.
In all fairness, Tinder actually makes it crystal clear from the moment you sign up to their dating platform that the information you provide to their app will forever remain private and confidential. However, with the increasing cases of data breach and hacking attempts, anyone with the right tools and expertise can scrape all the data Tinder has on their servers about your personal life and use it for malicious or marketing purposes. It is safe nowadays to assume that no data collection, storage, and transmission is 100% foolproof. This is why you should be cautious when sharing personal data on Tinder or any other online platform.
Let’s take a look at what user data Tinder collects and stores, both officially and unofficially.
User Data That Tinder Collects Officially
If you request Tinder what kind of data they have on you, their official response will include the following information:
- Personally identifiable data including your full name, phone number, email address, and IP address.
- Your smartphone platform such as iOS and Android, and the app version you have installed on your phone.
- User information including bio data, birthday, last active time, and your search preferences among others.
- All the messages you have sent and received via the app
- All the pictures you have uploaded to the platform in a compressed format
- The places you have visited if you are already using the new Places feature of the app.
- Purchase information including date, platform, and even location from where you made the purchase. They also record the type of purchase made such as Gold, Plus, or Consumables.
- Your linked Spotify account
- Your Instagram pictures which they can provide via a link
- Last active position via GPS
- Your usage data including how often and when you use the app every day, when you swipe either left or right, all the messages you send or receive, and received matches among others.
Most of the data Tinder collects and saves is pretty much standard and expected in an online dating app but interestingly why do they not include, at least officially, data like your device ID, Snapchat account, and Instagram account? The obvious lack of device ID in the data they collect and save implies that you need a new phone to reset your account.
Another noteworthy point is that even though Tinder does not officially state that they save your device ID, you can still see your old account details when you open a new account on the same phone but with a different email address. The list above also misses plenty of data that Tinder uses in its matching algorithm such as your ELO score. The argument I’m trying to state here is that there is more data that Tinder collects and stores unofficially without letting you know.
User Data Tinder Unofficially Collects and Stores
On close scrutiny, it is quite obvious that Tinder collects and stores the following data unofficially:
- Your Snapchat account
- Your Instagram account
- ELO score data which is basically the data that Tinder’s algorithm uses to calculate your personal score or matches’ scores.
- Unknowns or a lot of other things we are yet to discover
How You Can Request Your Personal Data from Tinder
You may ask, is it possible to request all the data Tinder has on you to know how much exactly they have on their servers about your personal life? According to Tinder, they claim to have a strong commitment to protecting your privacy and data and will always provide you access to all the information you have willingly given them. To request a copy of your personal data, simply visit https://account.gotinder.com/data.
When you visit the link, you’ll receive the requested data via their Download My Data tool. Most of the data available via the tool is already accessible through the app but it may vary depending on how you have used Tinder lately.
Well, that’s the official statement according to Tinder but as previously mentioned, getting access to your data via their portal is not as easy as said.
To make it less stressful for you, here are two important things you need to know before you request for your personal data from Tinder:
- Tinder tells you that the email containing your download link will arrive in a few days but it may take up to 4 days in some cases. Tinder claims they do this because of technical reasons but surely with the level of technology today, you’d expect better from a company of their size.
- When the email arrives, it will surely contain the download link but bear in mind that the link is only valid for 24 hours. If you won’t download the data within the 24-hour period, you’ll have to request for another download link and wait for “a few days” again. Tinder says they do this for security reasons. You’ll, therefore, need to watch out for the email every single day until it arrives or start the process again if it arrives and the link expires before you download your data.
Considering everything goes as expected, as in a perfect world, here is a step-by-step process of requesting for your data from Tinder:
Step 1. Log into your account and go to the data request page https://account.gotinder.com/data
Step 2: Provide your email address through which you’ll receive the download link. It is recommended that you use the same email you used to register your account.
Step 3: Wait until the email arrives and click on the download link in the email
Step 4: There are two ways of opening your data. You can use a JSON editor if you have one already installed or use online services such as https://jsoneditoronline.org/ but keep in mind of privacy risks associated with such services. You can alternatively open the HTML file included in the folder and view it on your browser. However, the HTML file will not provide as much insight into the data that Tinder hast stored on you as the JSON file.
After you open the file successfully, you can see what Tinder has on you. Whether you believe that’s all the data they have or not is up to you. However, bear in mind that in this digital age, total privacy has become a tricky thing. It’s one of those things that most of us take for granted and spend hours updating social media profiles and giving away personal data without a care. You don’t need to keep on living in a bubble of pretend safety and ensure that the data you provide, whether to Tinder or any other online platform, cannot be mishandled or harm you in any way.