Friday, July 19, 2019

Privacy and dating apps

As internet and app-driven dating becomes increasingly common, so has the tension between dating and privacy, i.e. between indicating to potential partners who you are and what you want, and keeping some privacy about these things in the rest of your life.  The NY Times has an article by NY Law School prof Ari Ezra Waldman that focuses on the design of dating apps with respect to privacy:

 Queer Dating Apps Are Unsafe by Design
Privacy is particularly important for L.G.B.T.Q. people. By Ari Ezra Waldman.

"Pete Buttigieg met his husband on a dating app called Hinge. And although that’s unique among presidential candidates, it’s not unique for Mr. Buttigieg’s generation — he’s 37 — or other members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community.
In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that use of online dating apps among young adults had tripled in three years, and nearly six in 10 adults of all ages thought apps were a good way to meet someone. The rates are higher among queer people, many of whom turn to digital spaces when stigma, discrimination and long distances make face-to-face interaction difficult. One study reported that in 2013 more than one million gay and bisexual men logged in to a dating app every day and sent more than seven million messages and two million photos over all.
"But for queer people, privacy is uniquely important. Because employers in 29 states can fire workers simply for being gay or transgender, privacy with respect to our sexual orientations and gender identities protects our livelihoods. 
"All digital dating platforms require significant disclosure. Selfies and other personal information are the currencies on which someone decides whether to swipe right or left, or click a heart, or send a message. 
Hinge made a commitment to privacy by designing in automatic deletion of all communications the moment users delete their accounts. Scruff, another gay-oriented app, makes it easy to flag offending accounts within the app and claims to respond to all complaints within 24 hours. Grindr, on the other hand, ignored 100 complaints from Mr. Herrick about his harassment. If, as scholars have argued, Section 230 had a good-faith threshold, broad immunity would be granted only to those digital platforms that deserve it.
Privacy isn’t anathematic to online dating. Users want it, and they try hard to maintain it. The problem isn’t sharing intimate selfies, no matter what victim-blamers would have us believe. The problem is the law permits the development of apps that are unsafe by design."

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