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Tinder remains silent about harassment claims and privacy concerns

UPDATED: I have still not received a reply from Tinder. The girl in question who I wrote about below ended up getting some male friends to report the profile. Her number was taken down. A few hours later another girl contacted me saying her number had now been shared. A prominent blogger, Natalie Roos, over at Tails of a Mermaid has now tweeted that the same thing has happened to her!!! She has never had a Tinder profile but her number is being shared. This is harassment and Tinder remaining mum on the whole thing absolutely disgusting. FIX THIS! 

Does it come as any surprise that Tinder, the world’s biggest hook up app really doesn’t give two hoots about people abusing the platform, harassing other users and private information of NON APP USERS being disseminated on the platform?

Well no, probably not.

Imagine suddenly getting an onslaught of offensive sexual text messages, unsolicited phone calls and penis pictures from random strangers? A South African girl recently got bombarded with inappropriate content direct to her cellphone with no explanation. She is not a Tinder user and has never even logged in to the app.

On investigation she found out that this Tinder profile had pasted her cellphone number in their “Info” section on the app:

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Keep in mind that the “Info” section of Tinder is public to anyone on the app. That means anyone logging in to Tinder has access to this girl’s phone number. She immediately contacted Tinder who told her that she needed to report the profile.

Ummm… she’s not on Tinder?

tinder

Even if she was on Tinder, it isn’t like you can save profiles. She’d need to search through thousands and *hope* she comes across the right one. When she kindly pointed this out to Tinder their response was to tell her to take it up with Facebook. Let’s make one thing clear – Tinder links into Facebook’s API to pull data. You can also keep your Facebook profile private from Tinder. As a third party app, basically, what the hell was Facebook supposed to do to fix this? Especially when the Info section on Tinder is very much an exclusive Tinder thing (you fill those details in on Tinder!).

I was pretty damn horrified by this whole story so I sent Tinder’s press room a mail asking for comment. I couldn’t believe their blatant disregard for someone’s right to privacy and the fact that she is now being harassed.

Their answer?

Well, I’m still waiting for it. Which I think tells you everything you need to know about the people behind the app. Anyone know how else we can help this poor girl and get her details removed? 

 

24 Comments

  • Reply garg March 4, 2016 at 09:33

    Yes, seriously. Take it up with Facebook. Recall that Tinder uses an API to get your information from Facebook. This is assuming that someone signed up to Tinder with that account, so all that information will be on Tinder.

    If your phone number is publicly listed on your Facebook account – a setting for which you are responsible – anybody can obtain your phone number from Facebook. They don’t even have to use Tinder, or any API, they can just view your profile and get your number there.

    I don’t want to belittle privacy, as privacy is a huge concern and more people should be concerned over their privacy. However, in this case it is hard to blame Tinder off the bat. For argument’s sake, anybody with access to a Facebook profile can use that Facebook profile content to create a Tinder account.

    • Reply Tech Girl March 4, 2016 at 09:36

      1. Her phone number is not on Facebook. I just checked.
      2. None of her other information was used. Someone simply copied and pasted her phone number into the Tinder info section.
      3. It’s clearly someone she knows attempting to harass her. How they got her phone number isn’t the issue. The issue is Tinder refusing to remove it once notified.

      • Reply Dawid Eduard Roestorf March 4, 2016 at 10:09

        Seems like an angry ex.

        Hope tinder catches a wake up

      • Reply garg March 4, 2016 at 10:44

        Good, so we’re sorted with 3. In which case, it is not Tinder who is trying to harass her.

        As a reporter, do you have the correspondence from Tinder claiming that they refused to remove the fake profile? Did you notify Tinder that you are going to publish a story on them and did you give them an opportunity to respond?

        It seems that you can report that account as a fake account on Tinder. You just have to have a Tinder account..

        Did someone report this account as a fake account already? Remember, if you aren’t on Tinder, then Tinder has no way of verifying that you are the true account holder and the person on Tinder is the fake account holder.

        https://www.gotinder.com/faq

        • Reply Tech Girl March 4, 2016 at 12:34

          Did you even read the article?

          You cannot report the profile unless it pops up in your feed. Which means you could trawl through hundreds or thousands of profiles.

          I have the correspondence from Tinder to her. I also mailed Tinder and received zero response. Private information is being illegally shared on Tinder by someone who did not consent to having her information shared. The app needs to shut the account down. Simply stating it must be reported or “go to Facebook” is a lazy cop out.

          • garg March 4, 2016 at 13:14

            I did even read the article and all I can see is you claim Tinder did not respond. Now you claim Tinder did in fact respond, so which is it?

            You seem to have selective memory about what you have written, so here it is again:
            I was pretty damn horrified by this whole story so I sent Tinder’s press room a mail asking for comment. I couldn’t believe their blatant disregard for someone’s right to privacy and the fact that she is now being harassed.

            Their answer?

            Well, I’m still waiting for it.

          • Tech Girl March 4, 2016 at 13:49

            Tinder responded to her – as I said (and I have the mail). Tinder did not respond to me.

          • garg March 4, 2016 at 14:07

            That makes much more sense, thank you.

    • Reply Susan March 4, 2016 at 10:09

      It really makes no difference where the USER on Tinder got the information from, what does matter in this instance is that the victim did not open an account or consent for her number to be used and has informed Tinder, who refuse to assist in any way. So basically that are responsible for any and all harrasment that she suffers as it is in their power to resolve this but they appear to be too lazy or callous to care.

      And even if her information IS on Facebook, it was used without her permission, something she has let Tinder know, and so it should be removed. Just the same as if some-one creates a false profile under your name on FB they will take it down on your behalf.

      • Reply garg March 4, 2016 at 10:38

        If her information is public on Facebook, she cannot claim that Tinder is to blame for the information breach. Firstly, there was no information breach since it is public information. Secondly, anybody could have created a profile on Tinder with her information.

        Even if she does have all the privacy settings on Facebook in place, and her phone number is listed on Facebook (which is stupid if you ask me) then anybody who has her on Facebook could have created a Tinder profile with her information. Again, Tinder is not implicated. It could be anybody on Facebook.

        Should Tinder provide for users who want to report fake accounts? That is a debate worth having.

        • Reply Tech Girl March 4, 2016 at 12:36

          Let me make this very clear. No one created a fake profile with her information on Tinder. They created their own profile, with a different photo and information. They then pasted her phone number in the info section. Her phone number is not on Facebook.

          She is not a Tinder user. So the debate is should Tinder provide for people who do not sign up for their app having their personal information (be it phone numbers, photos etc) promoted on profiles in app? Yes. Yes they should.

          • garg March 4, 2016 at 13:09

            It is crystal clear. What is also crystal clear is that Tinder only has the information provided by the person who created that profile to go by.

            She is not a Tinder user. Therefore, Tinder cannot verify that she is the rightful owner of that phone number.

            For all Tinder has to go by, the person who signed up with her phone number is the rightful owner of that number. They mostly run their app as an app, which means they employ APIs and such to do their profile confirmation. And they are not a local company, which makes it all the more difficult to lay the blame at their door because different laws would count.

            I understand why she is upset, I would be too. But she should be upset with the person who created the fake profile. She can’t blame Tinder for someone who pranked her.

          • Tech Girl March 4, 2016 at 13:21

            She is being harassed constantly and will have to change her phone number. Tinder could remove the number rather easily, every other piece of info could stay – she is simply asking to have the number removed.

            Instead she needs to now go through the motions of changing her phone number (have you ever tried to change your number mid way through a contract? It’s costly) and incur costs because Tinder refuses to simply remove a number.

            It’s absurd.

          • garg March 4, 2016 at 13:34

            I understand full well the frustrations she is having. I regularly change my own phone number, especially when I start getting marketing calls. I do not dispute that this is absurd and a bloody inconvenience, and it would be far worse had I received nudie pics and foreign propositions on my phone number.

            In fact, I don’t even pick up phone calls or make any phone calls. I only have a phone because work requires it. This is understandable and I do not take issue with this. As said, privacy does not deserve enough attention in an age where ahem people are expected to use their real names online (how stupid is that? But anyway… different story)

            You do not provide evidence that Tinder has refused anything. You merely claimed that you are still awaiting their response. Awaiting for their response does not indicate refusal on their part.

            You also do not have evidence that Tinder created a fake profile with her phone number, and good luck with finding that. It seems unlikely to me, since Tinder is an app that relies on APIs. They have no reason for providing someone’s private phone details to their users, and if they did create a fake profile, all the information in it would have to originate somewhere from within an API. Which means that number would have had to be listed somewhere.

            I’m merely pointing out that blaming Tinder in this case is jumping to conclusions as long as there is no evidence to indicate this. It seems more likely to me that someone else created a profile, and someone who somehow got hold of her phone number has so kindly joined Tinder on her behalf.

            By the way, you also get third party reverse engineered APIs for creating bots on Tinder. Some of these APIs may be used by crafty villains to verify phone numbers without the knowledge or consent of Tinder or the owner of the phone. In this case, Tinder is responsible for not having a very secure framework, but they would also not be able to fix it since they created such an insecure framework in the first place.

          • Tech Girl March 4, 2016 at 13:51

            You’re missing the point completely. Tinder told her the onus was on her (someone without Tinder) to report a profile she couldn’t access. That is unacceptable.

          • garg March 4, 2016 at 14:02

            You’re missing the point here. As explained, Tinder has no way of verifying the owner of that phone number. Especially not when the user is not a Tinder user. The fake account looks more real from their perspective.

          • Tech Girl March 4, 2016 at 14:03

            Signed cellphone contract in her name, with her ID that shows the number is hers and she is paying for it. So really, they have no excuse here.

          • garg March 4, 2016 at 14:09

            I’ve emailed them too, on all the emails in their contact page, linking to this article. Will see if I get a response.

          • Tech Girl March 4, 2016 at 15:55

            Let me know. I emailed their press office with no luck

          • garg March 7, 2016 at 13:12

            I joined tinder, found the profile in question and reported it. It’s not a great app, it keeps crashing so it’s a bit dodgy already.

            Also no reply from them via email as of yet.

            I think we have given them enough time to respond. Not having proper phone verification in place is bad, but not responding to support queries is even worse. They should have at least replied by now. No further reservations about this witch hunt from my side.

          • Susan March 4, 2016 at 15:39

            Can she not simply lay a charge against Tinder for harassment and sexual assault for their refusal to remove her private information? Especially as they are now aware of the harassment and the fact that it is her number and they refuse to do anything about it.

          • Tech Girl March 4, 2016 at 15:55

            They’re an international company so the costs involved in that are through the roof.

  • Reply Her Highness the Hipster March 4, 2016 at 10:12

    This is AWFUL! Tinder needs to take responsibility or the amount of revenge listings possible is terrifying. Reminds me of some awful Craig’s List stories I heard a while back.

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