With the increasing use of dating applications, you could argue that companies have access to more personal and sensitive information related to single people. When you think about it, the idea of using a dating app is inherently contrary to data privacy: you’re purposely looking for strangers with whom you would not usually interact and sharing your most personal and sensitive information.
There are two types of controls that you could use to better protect your privacy: using the application’s or your phone’s privacy features (technical) and controlling the amount of information that you post (administrative).
OkCupid, Match, and Zoosk all have a private or incognito mode which comes at the cost of paid subscription or prorated price. Your profile is made invisible to others until you like them, so you can still swipe through others’ profiles without being noticed. While it might seem unfair to have to pay for this functionality, you should consider how much you value your own privacy.
All that Bumble, Hinge, and Plenty of Fish let you do is pause your account for free, which leaves the matches or favorites you’ve made at the time of pausing. This will only be useful while you have good connections going, so if you want new connections you’ll eventually have to resume.
There’s also a dating app called Anomo that keeps your personal information private until you’re ready to securely reveal it. You can connect and chat first in a different kind of private mode.
OkCupid is one dating application that doesn’t require your location to be tracked to produce potential matches. Some other dating apps you could use without allowing them to track your location would be MeetMoi, Skout, or Sonar.me.
Remember that apps like Bumble, Hinge, and Tinder will always have your location on, so you may want to turn it off if you’re traveling, or at least during your travels, to limit your profile’s exposure.
Your profile is the center of all your personal information, designed to help you find things in common with someone. Not only are you asked to provide your name, age, location, and sexual orientation and other sensitive details about your dating preferences, but you also upload photos and answer “get to know me” questions. There are some answers that you may be able to hide from your profile in settings.
Start by being careful what you type into any free text description space. I especially don’t recommend writing your Snapchat username in your description, which is a thing I’ve seen in quite a few profiles. Remember that if you’re not in private mode or paused, your profile is available to any number of other users in your selected vicinity.
You should try to limit the extra information you’re providing in your profile. Maybe that means selecting just “New York City” as your hometown instead of “Washington Heights,” or not answering any questions that aren’t required like your job or education. I would also skip prompt questions that might be giving away security question-type answers, like the names of your favorite movies or foods.
Connecting your social media accounts
Most dating apps allow you to connect other applications like Instagram or Spotify to your profile. According to a recent study about third party data sharing of applications by mobile marketing company URL Genius, these two applications in particular allow relatively low to medium third party application tracking compared to other applications of the same type.
However, you are permitting your chosen dating application to go to your Instagram profile where you might give them even more personal information. You could save your Instagram posts and upload them separately as photos without letting the application connect, and the same effect would be achieved in letting people see your personality from your pictures. There’s even an option in Instagram when you post a photo to let it save to your phone automatically in a separate folder, which is a feature you might use already.