Tinder Users Outaged As Machine Learning App Scrapes And Exposes 40,000 Profile Photos

Your Tinder profile may be getting some unwelcome attention, since a machine learning platform recently uploaded facial data from roughly 40,000 Tinder profiles. The data is available on GitHub and has been uploaded under a CC0: Public Domain License.

The data set “People of Tinder” was released with six downloadable zip file, four of which contained around 10,000 profile images apiece and two files with sample sets of 500 images per gender. Some users have scrapped multiple photos, so it is possible that there are less than 40,000 images. The profile pictures are from Tinder users around the Bay Area of northern California.

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Stuart Colianni, the developer of the data set, stated that he released a “simple script to scrape Tinder profile photos for the purpose of creating a facial dataset.” He noted that usual datasets are small and restricted. Tinder offers access to thousands of potential profiles and Colianni hopes to use the dataset to create a convolutional neural network that will be able to distinguish between men and women.

Many people argue that this dataset is an invasion of privacy, however, this is not the first time developers have tapped into Tinder’s API. One person offered a paid service that would look up whether someone was on Tinder. Another hacker made it so that Tinder automatically liked every potential prospect. 

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Tinder itself has been accused in the past of running afoul of its users’ privacy rights. Tinder used to automatically opt their users into Tinder Social, a feature that helped users find multiple friends to hang out with. Many users were unhappy about this feature and Tinder eventually updated the app so that users would need to actively “unlock” Tinder Social.

Tinder has responded to Colianni’s upload with the statement, “We are always working to improve the Tinder experience and continue to implement measures against the automated use of our API, which includes steps to deter and prevent scraping.This person has violated our terms of service (Sec. 11) and we are taking appropriate action and investigating further.”