Grindr is amazing. It gives you the ability to see that you are not the only person lin your town looking for a quickie, excuse me, a date. In most major cities in the nation, you can see three to five pages of men less than 900 feet away. Some Grindr users do not wish to have their distance from you shared, which is their own choice for whatever reasons, but don't we just look at the man before and after him and guess his distance? Now picture yourself in a nation where being gay is illegal and the punishment is death. Do you think it would be benificial to have your location shared?
Grindr removed the distance location feature back in 2014 but soon reinstated it after receiving user complaints (September 2014 Grindr Reinstates Distance Feature On App). Was this a good idea? I am sure 'Merikans thought so, but what about users in other nations?
September 2014 Grindr Warns Egyptians About Risks Of Using The App, we shared:
Grindr was under criticism this summer for a design feature that might allow the network to be used to pinpoint the exact location of users. The English-language Egyptian publication the Cairo Scene published a story on September 2 that said Grindr was a primary tool for these schemes, but the story included no evidence of documented cases and human rights activists in Egypt say they know of no confirmed cases of entrapment through Grindr or other social media applications designed exclusively for mobile phones.
Other apps have worked with certain regions of the world to protect app users in our November 2017 Exclusive Interview with Coley Cummiskey: The Man Behind the Creation & Success of GROWLr, we learned of his work with protecting GROWLr app users.
One of the main things we do is that the app has the option to hide your location. That’s not just on the profile but behind the scenes, too. If you select that option, there will be no internal data regarding your location, no latitude, no longitude, nothing. We are used in some of those nations that are using the apps to track down people. We had a gay advocacy group from the Middle East work with our app to identify and establish safety measures. They actually traveled to me here in Seattle to meet. It was so important to them and we definitely worked with them and were excited and honored to do so. It was a great experience. And the Middle East is one of our more popular areas.
That interview was shortly after October 2017 when we posted: Egyptian Authorities Are Using Grindr To Lure & Arrest Gay Men and then in April 2018 Grindr is sharing your HIV Status as well as other personal info!
What is the status of Grindr user location information? Take a look at this horrific video shared on QueerEurope's Twitter account that made my jaw drop.
Earlier in the year it was revealed that a security flaw made it possible to determine not only the location, but also the HIV status of Grindr users. Months down the line, Grindr is still exposing the precise location of its users by failing to block third-party access to a private API.
Using a trilateration technique, and exploiting the fact that Grindr lets users know — with some degree of accuracy — how far away they are from others, it is very easy for just about anyone to build a tool that shows precise locations.
The Grindr API allows unofficial apps like Fuckr to make 600 API request every second, making it possible to quickly track the locations of numerous people. But more than this, it is also possible to cross-reference the Grindr database and pull up a huge amount of information about users, all of which can be posted on an interactive map. – QueerEurope.com
Imagine that guy that you just cannot shake from another app finds you on Grindr and physically hunts you down. Imagine the police using this in anti-LGBT nations to hunt down fellow queer folk.
Definitely check out more at QueerEurope.com as they go into more detail about how to triangulate Grindr users.
Does this make you feel safe?