Dating apps are collecting more of your information than you think (2024)

For people in search of lasting relationships on dating apps, there’s nothing quite like matching with someone who wants to know the real you.

That kind of curiosity could signal keen interest, or at the very least, a certain social grace. But those potential partners aren’t the only curious ones in the mix: The apps you may have used to meet them might be just as hungry for your personal information.

So say researchers at the Mozilla Foundation’s Privacy Not Included project, who updated reviews of 25 of the most popular dating apps out there based on their user privacy practices, data breach track records and more. The result? 22 of those apps — including popular options like Tinder, Grindr, OkCupid, Hinge and Bumble — received the team’s “Privacy Not Included” warning label.

Those labels mean stay away, said Zoë MacDonald, a researcher who worked on the project, though she conceded that’s easier said than done.


Among other things, Mozilla’s researchers found that 80 percent of the apps they reviewed may share or sell your personal information for advertising. That’s nothing new for these kinds of companies, but it feels especially lousy because they so ardently want you to pay for additional features anyway.

Meanwhile, Jdate, Christian Mingle and EliteSingles — specialty dating services all owned by a company called Spark Networks — specifically note in their privacy policies that they may collect “sensitive” information, including your political affiliation, union memberships and your “sexual preferences and experiences.”

References to sex pop up in privacy policies from time to time, said MacDonald, but seeing a company mention collecting information about specific sexual experiences was a new one for the team.

Spark Networks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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“The nature of these products means you’re going to share a lot of personal information about yourself, and of course the dating apps say that you share that information in service of finding someone,” MacDonald said. But they “take more information than just what you’re conscious of sharing” and then use that information for purposes that aren’t going to help you find a partner.

One particularly strange example: If you’re a Coffee Meets Bagel user looking to break the ice with a match before meeting up in person, you could use the app’s video chat feature. That is, if you’re okay with the company collecting “the content and information you make available using our video chat feature.”

(The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

In fairness, Coffee Meets Bagel’s privacy policy only says it “may” collect that information — hardly a definitive statement of intent. Other companies judiciously sprinkle “mays” into their privacy policies, too. But MacDonald said you probably shouldn’t seek much comfort in the vagueness of this language.

“Whenever we see that a company is allowed to do something, or may do something, or even leave the door one crack open to do something, we have to assume the worst, ” she said.

Naturally, the people behind these apps don’t all agree with the researchers’ take.

“We unilaterally and purposefully limit the types of data we use for advertising purposes,” said a spokesperson for Match Group, which owns Tinder, Hinge and OkCupid. “In particular, we do not use sensitive data, such as sexual orientation, racial or ethnic origins, religion, or precise geolocation data for third-party advertising.”


Data privacy concerns like the ones Mozilla raised aren’t the only reason some people are turning away from dating apps. In addition to privacy issues, harassment and scams abound. About 40 percent of dating app users in North America have encountered a scam, and 20 percent have fallen for one, according to estimates from cybersecurity company Kaspersky.

In some cases, people revolt.

Users of apps including Tinder, Hinge and the League sued owner Match Group in February over what the lawsuit called a “predatory” business model — allegedly hiding potential matches from users and pressuring them to pay for premium features.

The apps encourage addictive behavior, the plaintiffs claimed, keeping users swiping in a hunt for romance that feels increasingly like a video game.

Match Group called the lawsuit “ridiculous.” But anti-dating-app sentiment has spread beyond a small group of litigious users. Nearly half of dating app users say their experience has been predominantly negative, according to research from Pew Research Center. Services that forgo swiping and messaging in favor of in-person meetups are gaining popularity in larger cities.


For some people, however, in-person dating events might not be feasible. And asking someone to stop using dating apps over privacy concerns is like asking someone to stop driving a car for the same reason, MacDonald said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

Even if you can’t give up your dating apps entirely, it’s worth taking a moment to read the reviews for the ones you rely on. You’ll get a fuller sense of the kinds of data these companies want from you and what they might do with it once they have it.

Smarter ways to use dating apps

After all that, if dating apps still feel like the least stressful, most effective way for you to make connections with new people, then go forth and flirt your heart out, but MacDonald has a few things you should keep in mind.

Treat your dating profile more like your LinkedIn. “Just understand that anything you share may be public information,” she said. “Share a little bit less, and lock down what you share.”


Let your device help protect your data. iPhones and Android devices give you the option to prevent apps from knowing your precise location or accessing your entire photo library. Use these to your advantage. You may also have the option to tell apps not to track you as you poke around on the web or in other apps, which can help safeguard your activity.

Limit your exposure. Don’t log in to your dating apps with your social media accounts, since this can give companies a way to access some of the information you’ve shared there. And resist the urge to respond to prompts from dating apps that encourage you to share more (and different kinds of) information.

Tatum Hunter contributed to this report.

Dating apps are collecting more of your information than you think (2024)


Dating apps are collecting more of your information than you think? ›

Dating apps can collect a LOT of information about you

What gets the most responses on dating apps? ›

Give A Compliment When Sending An Online Dating Message.

It's even better when the compliment is something other than a persons looks. Get creative to stand out. It could be something about their intelligence, their witty profile, interests, travel experience, great taste in shoes or whatever else you find intriguing.

Why you should stay off dating apps? ›

Taking a break from dating apps can make the time you do spend on them more lighthearted and productive, therapist Monica Vermani told Insider. She said it's important to pinpoint your intentions for dating, like getting to know someone new or finding long-term companionship, before using apps or dating websites.

Do dating apps devalue human connection? ›

Studies have found that using online dating apps can have a negative impact on self-esteem and lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. Additionally, the overwhelming amount of choices presented by these apps can make it challenging to form meaningful connections.

What are dating apps doing to our brains? ›

Elias Aboujaoude, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford, says dating apps give users a “rush” that comes from receiving a like or a match. Though the exact mechanisms at play are unclear, he speculates that a dopamine-like reward pathway may be involved.

What is the actual success rate of dating apps? ›

Dating App Success Rate
  • Nearly 70% of individuals who met someone on a dating app said it led to a romantic, exclusive relationship, while 28% said it did not.
  • Individuals between ages 43 and 58 found the most success with online dating, with 72% stating that meeting on a dating app led to a romantic relationship.
Feb 19, 2024

What is the statistically best dating app? ›

  • Best Dating Apps of 2024, According to Research.
  • Bumble.
  • Tinder.
  • Coffee Meets Bagel.
  • Hinge.
  • Facebook Dating.
  • Happn.
  • Plenty of Fish.
6 days ago

How often do guys check Hinge? ›

How often do users check their Hinge app? The frequency with which users check the app varies greatly, but on average, active users check Hinge 2-3 times per day.

When to give up on dating? ›

How do you know if you should stop dating?
  • You no longer enjoy spending time with them.
  • Your friends and family tell you they don't approve of the relationship.
  • You're happier when you're with other people.
  • Your needs are not being met.
  • They've broken your trust multiple times.
Feb 25, 2024

Is it bad to be on too many dating apps? ›

Mistake #1: Using too many dating apps.

I know from swiping professionally as a former matchmaker that more dating apps don't mean "higher odds." More dating apps just mean more frustration and burnout. Dating is vulnerable and courageous.

What is the dark side of dating apps? ›

From identity theft to stalking, the consequences of sharing too much personal information on dating apps can extend far beyond the digital realm. Dating apps provide the perfect breeding ground for catfishing – the act of creating a fake identity to deceive others.

Are dating apps damaging your mental health? ›

According to Foreman, there can be a tie between depression and dating apps because you're meeting people so often that you can bump into frequent rejection, which can affect your self-esteem and mood.

Why is online dating bad for your mental health? ›

Dating sites have many pitfalls, particularly for our mental health, increasing the risk of feeling lonely, rejected, and even potentially anxiety and depression. While some dating apps are more to blame than others, trying less anxiety-provoking apps like Match, EliteSingles and eHarmony may be better for you.

What is the most serious dating app? ›

Our Top Dating Apps And Sites For Serious Relationships
  • Bumble.
  • Tinder.
  • Coffee Meets Bagel.
  • Hinge.
  • Facebook Dating.
  • happn.
  • Plenty of Fish.
  • BLK.
Feb 20, 2024

What is the paradox of dating apps? ›

I believe a good reason why short-term relationships have become so prevalent is the paradox of choice - the phenomenon that states having too much choice in our everyday lives can actually overwhelm and paralyze us, instead of feeling satisfied with our final decisions.

Is online dating losing popularity? ›

Tinder, the app behemoth that leads the dating market, is shrinking. But virtual love isn't a dying breed yet. As many as 46% of online daters say they've used Tinder, according to a 2023 Pew Research Center report, but annual downloads are down more than a third from the app's 2014 peak.

How to get more responses on dating sites? ›

How to Get a Girl to Respond when Online Dating
  1. 1 Mention something you saw on her profile.
  2. 2 Bring up what you have in common.
  3. 3 Ask her an open-ended question.
  4. 4 Open with a funny pun or joke.
  5. 5 Compliment her on something other than her looks.
  6. 6 Flirt by showing your excitement.
  7. 7 Try asking her out right away.

How do I get more replies on dating sites? ›

Here are some hacks to dive into higher-quality conversations on your dating app of choice.
  1. Show, don't tell. ...
  2. Get more specific. ...
  3. Personalize your messages. ...
  4. Have a friend look over your profile. ...
  5. Keep an open mind. ...
  6. Make real plans ASAP.
Oct 4, 2021

How do you get more hits on dating apps? ›

Here they are:
  1. Use a simple bio. A few words are fine - Words that display who you really are. ...
  2. Show your personality through pictures. ...
  3. Have good-quality photos. ...
  4. Avoid too many group photos. ...
  5. Smile. ...
  6. Highlight your best features. ...
  7. Get Feedback. ...
  8. Use a professional.

What gets the most responses on Tinder? ›

You could ask her about her day, something you saw in her profile, or a personal detail about her life. Since you're showing a deeper interest in her, she'll be more likely to reply.


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