Harassment Plaintiff Aims to Escalate Grindr Case to Supreme Court

Matthew Herrick, a Grindr user with a long-running complaint concerning the app’s handling of harassment by his ex-boyfriend, is now looking to escalate his case to the US Supreme Court.

Herrick’s ex-partner made multiple fake accounts using the plaintiff’s personal details, inviting men to his home and workplace and writing in the profiles that he would “say no when he means yes.”

Over 1,000 men responded to the fake invitations, turning up to meet Herrick in real life. Attorney Carrie Goldberg said in early 2019 that the profiles “were setting him up to be sexually assaulted.” 

Grindr argued that it was not liable for harassment of this nature, as it was protected under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The legal text therein is often used by tech platforms to sidestep any culpability for user-generated content.

A US federal appeals court ruled in favour of the dating app in March. Moez Kaba, a lawyer defending Grindr, said at the time: “No one disputes that the plaintiff’s situation was unfortunate, but the 2nd Circuit was plainly correct in finding that apps and their owners cannot be liable for this sort of third-party conduct.”

Herrick’s lawyers filed a petition with the Supreme Court this month, making the case that Grindr did not use “readily available” software to prevent fake profiles from being used in this way.

Grindr was recently criticised by the BBC for a security vulnerability which allowed hackers to pinpoint the locations of large numbers of singles at speed.

Responding to the revelations, Grindr said users had the option to hide their location in the app’s settings.

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Scott Harvey

Scott is the Editor of Global Dating Insights. Raised in Dorset, he holds a BA from The University of Nottingham and an MSc from Lund University School of Economics and Management. Previously he has written about politics, economics and technology for various online publications.

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