A new guide from Mozilla, the free software community behind Firefox, is shedding light on how dating apps and sex toys use your personal information — and some of the findings are, um, decidedly unsexy.
With a mid-pandemic Valentine’s Day right around the corner, the research team at Mozilla has published its 2021 Privacy Not Included guide, an in-depth analysis of the privacy policies of 50 popular dating apps and sex toys. This year’s installment incorporates gay dating apps like Grindr, Hornet, HER, and Lex, as well as more than 20 sex toys.
Among the queer dating apps included in the guide, Lex — a text-based, personal ad-style dating app for lesbians, queer women, and trans and gender non-conforming people — emerged as the safest and most secure of the bunch. The app “[seems] to collect as little data on [its] users as possible,” and its privacy and security policy is easy to read and understand, winning Lex points for accessibility.
And the least secure queer dating app? Grindr, which also had “the worst of the worst” data-security policy of all 24 dating apps reviewed by Mozilla, gay or straight.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
How much does your dating app
Know about you?
— Mozilla (@mozilla) February 9, 2021
The findings will come as no surprise to anyone who has stayed on top of Grindr’s privacy-related controversies. In early 2018, Grindr was formally acquired by a Chinese tech company, which U.S. intelligence experts flagged as a national-security concern. The app later came under fire for providing information about users’ HIV status to third-party vendors. It was even slammed with a hefty fine from the Norwegian government for illegally sharing personal information about its users with advertisers.
“Given Grindr is the world’s largest gay dating app, and given that in some parts of the world outing someone as gay can get them killed, these bad data privacy practices aren’t just awful and illegal, they are also life threatening,” Mozilla’s report reads in part. “As a location based app that tracks users movements and matches them based on proximity, Grindr knows a lot about it users. … What’s the worst that could happen? Grindr could leak your location, homophobes could search you out, find you, and murder you for being gay. This has happened already in the real world. Grindr is bad. Our recommendation, delete Grindr.”
And that’s on sexting safely! Check out the full Privacy Not Included guide here.