Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Expand chart
Data: Ghostery; Note: Pre-registration includes homepage and registration pages. Post-registration includes onboarding and profile/search pages. Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Handing over your personal data is now often the cost of romance, as online dating services and apps vacuum up information about their users’ lifestyle and preferences.

Why it matters: Dating app users provide sensitive information like drug usage habits and sexual preferences in hopes of finding a romantic match. How online dating services use and share that data worries users, according to an Axios-SurveyMonkey poll, but the services nonetheless have become a central part of the modern social scene.

What they know:

  • Everything you put on your profile, including drug use and health status. Web trackers can examine your behavior on a page and how you answer key personal questions. JDate and Christian Mingle, for example, both use a tracker called Hotjar that creates an aggregate heat map of where on a web page users are clicking and scrolling.
  • Every time you swipe right or click on a profile. "These can be very revealing things about someone, everything from what your kinks are to what your favorite foods are to what sort of associations you might be a part of or what communities you affiliate with," says Shahid Buttar, director of grassroots advocacy for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
  • How you're talking to other people. A reporter for the Guardian recently requested her data from Tinder and received hundreds of pages of data including information about her conversations with matches.
  • Where you are. Location data is a core part of apps like Tinder. "Beyond telling an advertiser where someone might physically be at a given time, geolocation information can provide insights into a person’s preferences, such as the stores and venues they frequent and whether or not they live in an affluent neighborhood,"” says former FTC chief technologist Ashkan Soltani.

The details: Popular dating websites broadly collect information on their users for advertising purposes from the minute they first log on to the site, according to an analysis by the online privacy company Ghostery of the websites for OkCupid, Match.com, Plenty of Fish, Christian Mingle, JDate and eHarmony. (Ghostery, which performed the analysis for Axios, lets people block ad trackers as they browse the web.)

  • Popular services broadly track their users while they search for potential matches and view profiles. OkCupid runs 10 advertising trackers during the search and profile stages of using its site, Ghostery found, while Match.com runs 63 — far exceeding the number of trackers installed by other services. The number and types of trackers can vary between sessions.
  • The trackers can collect profile information. Match.com runs 52 ad trackers as users set up their profiles, Plenty of Fish runs 21, OkCupid runs 24, eHarmony runs 16, JDate runs 10 and Christian Mingle runs nine.
  • The trackers could pick up where users click or where they look, says Ghostery product analyst Molly Hanson, but it's difficult to know for sure. "If \you're self-identifying as a 35-year-old male who makes X amount of money and lives in this area, I think there's a wealth of personal information that should be pretty easy to capture in a cookie and then send to your servers and package it and add it to a user profile," says Jeremy Tillman, the company's director of product management.

Many of these trackers come from third parties. OkCupid installed 7 ad trackers to watch users as they set up their profiles. Another 11 came from third parties at the time Ghostery ran its analysis. Trackers include data companies that often sell data to other companies looking to target people, Hanson says.

Match Group owns a number of dating services, including Tinder and OkCupid. The privacy policies say user data can be shared with other Match Group-owned services.

What they’re saying: A spokesperson for Match Group says in a statement said that data collected by its companies "enables us to make product improvements, deliver relevant advertisements and continually innovate and optimize the user experience."

"Data collected by ad trackers and third parties is 100% anonymized," the spokesperson says. "Our portfolio of companies never share personally identifiable information with third parties for any purpose."

  • The primary business model of the industry is still based around subscriptions rather than targeting ads based on personal data, notes Eric Silverberg, the CEO of gay dating app Scruff.
  • "I would argue that the incentive to share information is actually lower for dating businesses than it is for media businesses and news sites. ... We have subscription services and our members pay us for the services we provide and the communities we create,” he says.

Why you’ll hear about this again: Researchers routinely uncover security risks related to dating apps.

  • A security firm recently claimed to have found security flaws in Tinder.
  • The 2015 Ashley Madison hack resulted in the personal data of users of the site, which purported to facilitate infidelity, being exposed.
  • The FTC last week warned of dating app scams.

Go deeper

CNN: Pentagon watchdog says Ronny Jackson drank on duty and harassed staff

Rep. Ronny Jackson walking through the Canon Tunnel to the U.S. Capitol in January. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) allegedly made "sexual and denigrating" comments about a female staffer, drank alcohol and took sleeping medication while working as White House physician, according to an official report obtained by CNN Tuesday night.

For the record: The Department of Defense inspector general's report stems from a years-long investigation into allegations against Jackson of alcohol abuse and overprescription of medication, which Jackson has called "false and fabricated."

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

Poll: Immigration is America's most-polarizing issue

Data: The American Aspirations Index/Populace; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.

Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!