As reported in BuzzFeed News, the popular gay dating app Grindr was -- until publicly outed for this practice -- providing its users’ HIV status (as shown in users' profiles) to two app optimization vendors. Grindr also provided the vendors with users' GPS data, phone ID, and email, making the identification of specific users possible. All but the HIV status was reportedly provided in easily hackable plain text files.
BuzzFeed News reports that users feel particularly betrayed by this news given Grindr's branding as a supporter of the queer community.
This story underscores not only the importance of transparency in companies' practices in how they treat their users' sensitive data, but also the very obvious point that companies must behave in ways that are consistent with their stated mission to retain their users' trust.
"Under the app’s “HIV status” category, users can choose from a variety of statuses, which include whether the user is positive, positive and on HIV treatment, negative, or negative and on PrEP, the once-daily pill shown to effectively prevent contracting HIV. (The app also links to a sexual health FAQ about HIV and how to get PrEP.) ...But just because users are comfortable sharing personal information in their profile or chats doesn’t mean they want it being shared more broadly."