Ads on Grindr: Setting the Record Str8
As our Chief Privacy Officer and in honor of Data Privacy Day 2021, I’d like to address one of the areas that I think many people get wrong about privacy at Grindr: online advertising.
Grindr is the world’s leading LGBTQ+ social application, and with that position comes fair and frequent critique of how we approach complex issues like online advertising and user privacy. There has been much hypothesized in the press over the last few years as to what Grindr does in this area of the business. Unfortunately many get it wrong—very wrong in some cases—so I’m here to set the record “str8” and remove any uncertainty or doubt regarding our commitment to user privacy.
Like many mobile applications, we support the free version of Grindr through advertising and rely on ad partners to help us in this effort. Much of the incorrect reporting in this area is on what data is shared with our advertising partners, so let’s address the key areas:
Grindr is a location-centric application, so it is understandable that people assume that we’d share your location information with our advertisers, but that’s a misconception—we do NOT share precise location data with advertisers. Grindr’s ad partners can leverage a device’s IP Address to get a general sense of where the user is in the world, but accuracy drops sharply below city level detail.
Additionally, and perhaps not as well known as I’d like, Grindr never collects the full precision of a device’s location. We leverage the mobile operating system’s option to only provide us location data “within 100 meters of accuracy of your actual location.” This is why if you and a friend are dining out together (pre-Covid-19) and are both on Grindr, you may find some inconsistencies around the proximity of the profiles in your view. Your friend, who is less than a meter away from you, will show a few profiles out from you in your app, whereas someone two restaurants away may show up right next to you. This is by design. We’re confident that if you’re really into one another you’ll be able to sort through the 100m masking and figure out how to connect.
Age and Gender
Grindr users represent a wide variety of age ranges and, to some people’s surprise, a range of gender identifications. In many online advertising scenarios, it may be acceptable from a privacy perspective to share these details to better inform the contextual nature of ads a user may receive. But again, Grindr does NOT share this information with our ad partners.
If we don’t share location, age, or gender, what does Grindr share with ad partners?
We share the basics and only the basics: the mobile advertising ID (MAID) of the device (which users have full control over within their mobile operating system), IP Address (needed to communicate with the user’s device), and device details like make, model, OS version, etc. MAIDs are used to track which ads are seen and clicked on in a way not associated with a user’s personal information. Device information is used to deliver the best ads a particular device can support (lower quality video or even static ads are shown on older, slower devices, for example) and to help catch the bad guys who may be using emulators to trick the ad ecosystem in overcounting ad impressions or clicks to make money.
That’s it! We share only the most basic information—which users largely control—and nothing about a user’s Grindr account details. This last point is worth repeating: there is nothing from within a user’s Grindr account details that is shared with an ad partner. Full stop.
We care deeply about the privacy of our users, and we approach advertising policy globally so any Grindr user across the planet can rest assured that the details above are the same for them.
I hope this clears up some of the misconceptions and misreporting around how Grindr approaches ads on our platforms. If you have more questions about ad privacy or other areas of privacy at Grindr, please reach out to us at [email protected] and check out the Privacy section of our Help Center.
-Shane Wiley, Chief Privacy Officer | LinkedIn