U.K. researchers have revealed that several location-based dating apps can be used to track the exact, real-time locations of users.
The security firm Pen Test Partners (PTP) indicated that their research into these apps was able to discover precise details of where users live, work and socialize.
“We were able to precisely locate and track the users of four major dating apps, potentially putting at risk 10 million users,” PTP said in an online post.
“Many of these apps return an ordered list of profiles, often with distances in an app UI itself. By supplying spoofed locations (latitude and longitude) it is possible to retrieve the distances to these profiles from multiple points, and then triangulate…the data to return the precise location of that person.”
The researchers were able to find the locations of users on Grindr, Romeo, Recon, and 3fun.
They were also able to track app users to sensitive locations, like the home of Prime Minister of the U.K., as well as in the British parliament and other government buildings. Names of users were redacted in the post.
Romeo commented and said that users are able to move their location to a nearby position rather than their GPS fix, however it’s not a default setting.
Recon indicated that it plans to reduce the precision of location data as soon as possible.
Grindr did not respond to comments but the company has previously indicated that it does not store the precise locations of individuals. The researchers noted that this was not the case and “location data was able to pinpoint our test accounts down to a house or building.”
In Canada, 36 percent of Canadians use online dating websites and apps, according to e-harmony.ca. Statistics indicated that the service has grown $6 million per year since 2010.
E-harmony.ca noted that “after analyzing the dating profiles of Canadian Match.com users, [HuffPost Canada] discovered that the most common words used on profiles refer to location and a person’s favourite sports team.”
In the app-store, Bumble is listed as the number 4 dating app under lifestyle and over 50 million people have signed up for the service. Tinder is the number one dating app under lifestyle and indicates that 30 billion matches have been made to date, with 26 million matches per day.