On Monday, it was revealed that Grindr was sharing HIV status information of their users with third-party companies. The news came less than a week after the gay hook-up app launched a new update which aimed to raise sexual health awareness amongst its users.
The following day, the company confirmed that they would stop sharing this information, but they resisted issuing an apology, saying that they wouldn’t “admit fault” and that critics were just “misunderstanding technology.”
But following a large backlash, the company finally issued an apology, both in video format and a written statement.
The video apology can be viewed below.
Jack Harrison-Quintana, our VP of Social Impact and founder of Grindr for Equality, addresses concerns about HIV status information on Grindr and explains how we handle user data. Read our full statement about our HIV status data here: https://t.co/5Rw1id0HJw pic.twitter.com/mydtY4mqNN
— Grindr (@Grindr) April 5, 2018
In the video, the Vice President of Social Impact apologised for the “distress” caused to users of the app.
“I want to start by apologising from everyone here at the Grindr team for all of the distress that we’ve caused over the last 48 hours.
““I know that many of you have questions about what happens to the information that you put on your Grindr profile, and I’m going to try to answer some of those questions today.
“I want to say at the outset very clearly that we have never and would never sell any user data, especially HIV information, to advertisers, or anyone else.
“Three years ago, I was hired to to found Grindr for Equality, with the mission to promote LGBTQ health all over the world through our platform and one of the things that I heard from users most frequently was that there was a lot of anxiety about bringing up sexual health in conversation, both online and off.
“Users asked me for additional ways to communicate about HIV status on the app, and so I worked with noted HIV prevention specialists to create file options that would allow self-reporting of HIV status for any users who wanted to do that.
“Disclosing HIV information on Grindr is and has always been completely optional.
“As I mentioned, Grindr has never, nor would we ever, sell user information, especially about HIV status. The only people who have access to Grindr user information are our trusted contractors, who help us roll out new features and deliver relevant messages to our users.
“They aren’t advertisers. They’re well respected companies who take privacy and security as seriously as we do.
“Over the past two days we’ve heard your concerns. Your privacy and trust are very important to us. And it’s important to me. That’s why we’re making additional changes to keep this data even more secure.
“From now on, HIV status data will be isolated from the rest of the information that we have, so that it’s inaccessible to even our most trusted partners who we work with every day.
“I’ve spent the past ten years fighting for health, safety and human rights for queer people all over the world, and I came to Grindr because this is a company that’s fundamentally linked to our community.
“That gives us tremendous power to help the community and that also comes with tremendous responsibility.
“I want to apologise again from me as well as the entire Grindr team for all of the distress we’ve caused over the past two days. We take this very seriously and invite all your further questions as we work to rebuild your trust.”
However, many people were still distrusting of the way that the company has handling their data, and criticised the apology.
Oh dear, finally you apologize !
It’s a little bit late but whatever, we’ve never said you were selling datas.
But as long as you won’t give us the possibility to have certified accounts to take our actions on your App, you’ll be a target.#Bisous (remember Durban ?)
— christian andreo (@Andreo_Ch) April 5, 2018
And be transparent on how else you used profile data. Retroactively, before you were 100% acquired by Kunlun Group, a Chinese gaming company. Plus, commit to never, ever host data on servers in China. That's committing and taking it seriously, respecting your users' data.
— Simone Salis (@salis) April 5, 2018
I don't know who is advising you, but telling me you don't sell data and that providing HIV information is optional is insulting. Neither point mitigates the fact that customers' personal health information is being and has been exposed. Be a leader! #integrity #dataprivacy
— Todd W. Ruopp (@truopp) April 5, 2018
This bloody muppet's half-soaked "apology" has more holes than Swiss cheese. Who the hell would share this information with such an untrustworthy platform is beyond me, but frankly, it's disgusted me that Grindr even ASK people for it. It was patently clear they'd resell it.
— Jeremy Skyrme (@DrSkyrme) April 5, 2018
You just don’t get it. It doesn’t matter whether you sold HIV status information or not, you chose to share it. That shit is as personal as a social security number.
— Kieran (@UberKaninchen) April 6, 2018