24 May 2016
The location of users on popular dating apps is able to be pinpointed by others all within just 15 minutes. Disturbing news?
Writer for the website ‘Wired’ Andy Greenberg set out to see if locations were really secure on dating apps and found that within just minutes his location was able to be pinpointed.
The straight writer installed Grindr on his phone and set his profile photo as a cat and also turned off the ‘show distance’ feature.
He then contacted computer researcher Nguyen Phong Hoang in Japan and told him he was in the general Brooklyn area.
“Within fifteen minutes, Hoang had identified the intersection where I live. Ten minutes after that, he sent me a screenshot from Google Maps, showing a thin arc shape on top of my building, just a couple of yards wide. “I think this is your location?” he asked.”
“In fact, the outline fell directly on the part of my apartment where I sat on the couch talking to him.”
Hoang also told Greenberg this stalking method is “cheap, reliable, and works with other gay dating apps like Hornet and Jack’d”.
Another recently released study also found a method almost anyone could use to find a user on these dating apps, even with their location hidden.
Known as trilateration, it involves the person who is trying to stalk another using three points to pin point a user.
This could be done by the stalker creating new profiles on new phones and placing them around an area, or simply using the location of other users that have their distance displayed.
"Surprisingly,in both applications, the third-party advertisements leak many important information of the user including name of Telecommunications Service Provider, device's model information (i.e. iPhone 5), country code, and last but not least, the name of the applications (i.e. Grindr and Jack‘d)," the paper states.
The information is worrying, especially in countries with records of anti-LGBT views such as Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.