Last year, dating app users started reporting that their dating app matches were appearing on Facebook’s “People You May Know” section.
Users of popular apps like OkCupid and Tinder (which requires Facebook to use) voiced their concerns over the idea that the apps were sharing their personal information with social networks.
Worries were also raised by users of popular gay hookup apps like Grindr and Scruff, who also noticed the same thing.
And recently the story has resurfaced, as experts try to provide an explanation for why this is happening.
In an article on Vice, a data science professor called Emilio Ferrara from Indiana University said: “It is likely that these social network companies are buying data from one another, which means that Facebook can acquire some information on user activity from other platforms.
“If that’s the case, it would be very easy to cross match. It could also be a coincidence, but I don’t believe very much in coincidences.”
However when we first reported this issue, we received a comment from Facebook spokesperson Tim Rathschmidt, who said it was merely “coincidence”:
“Tinder matches are based on your Facebook friends, since you have to login via Facebook and the premise of the app is that it connects you with friends of friends for dating. People you may know is based off your Facebook friends. There’s going to be natural overlap.
“Grindr is geo-based. Many gay people are friends of friends in every city — since they are communities within a community in a location.
“It’s all coincidence. We don’t take any data from Grindr or Tinder to inform people you may know. People are speculating/conflating. It’s just a natural outcome of friends of friends in the same geo area.”
And people who have studied Tinder’s API, such as software engineer Brian Hamachek, told Vice there is no evidence to suggest Tinder and Facebook share user data.
He said: “Tinder doesn’t even talk to Facebook again after the login, even if they did there’s no API that would suggest Tinder gives information to Facebook about suggested friends.
“It seems highly suspect they’d actually be sharing that info with Facebook, and I don’t see what benefit it would serve either company.”
So maybe the answer, beyond coincidence and the companies sharing data, comes from a different source – phone numbers.
Speaking to BBC’s Newsbeat, the COO of security research company SensePost, Daniel Cuthbert, said:
“What Facebook does and what Tinder does is go through your phone book, upload your phone book and does cross-correlation between your numbers and anyone else’s number – and suggest people based on that.”
Read the original story here.