Grindr accused of selling its members’ data to a Catholic group looking for gay priests

Mathilde Rochefort

March 14, 2023 at 12:30 p.m.


Grindr © Tero Vesalainen /

© Tero Vesalainen / Shutterstock

In the United States, a Catholic group has spent 4 million dollars to get their hands on the personal data of several users of homosexual dating applications. Its objective: to identify gay priests and denounce them.

Among the targeted applications are Growlr, Scruff, Jack’da, OkCupid, or Grindr…

$4 million spent

In an extensive survey, the washington post revealed how this Denver-based Catholic NGO called Catholic Laity and Clergy for Renewal purchased location and usage data from these apps. By analyzing recordings of the group’s closed meetings as well as leaked documents and public records, the outlet found that from 2018 to 2021, the ultra-conservative group paid $4 million to source private data from these platforms.

To identify its targets, the group cross-referenced the recovered information with church residences housing priests. These were then communicated to dozens of bishops across the United States. On its website, the NGO states that its mission is ” to offer resources to Church leaders so that they can better care for their priests and their faithful “.

Like many other apps, Grindr partners with advertisers to target users and potential new customers through advertising. In this vast exchange system, facilitated by the almost non-existent legislation on the protection of privacy across the Atlantic, certain data brokers intercept information and repackage it to sell it, a process most likely used in this sordid affair.

Grindr tries to defend itself

Grindr spokesperson Patrick Lenihan says it’s not possible that location data from the app leaked in this way because the company changed the data it shared with its advertising partners. in 2020. At that time, a study had shown that the company was endangering its users by exposing information that could reveal their identity and sexuality.

According to Lenihan, Grindr shares far less data with its advertising partners than the rest of the industry, and he points out that users of the application have the option of opting out of targeted advertising. However, the media Gizmodo reports that in 2022 it was still possible to buy location data from Grindr.

Sources: The Washington Post, TF1, Gizmodo

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