The OPW/iDate Weekly News Summary.
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U.S. Orders Chinese Firm to Sell Dating App Grindr Over Blackmail Risk
WALL STREET JOURNAL - Mar 27 - U.S. national-security officials have ordered a Chinese company to sell gay-dating app Grindr, citing the risk that the personal data it collects could be exploited by Beijing to blackmail individuals with security clearances, according to people familiar with the situation. Beijing Kunlun Tech Co. Ltd., which acquired a majority stake in Grindr in 2016, would have no choice but to share information on Grindr users if demanded by the Chinese government, U.S. officials believe. That triggered the recent order from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., known as Cfius. National-security experts said a Chinese company would never be allowed to buy a company like Facebook Inc., for example. "If Cfius only applies to companies China acquires from the U.S., and not companies China builds, what can it possibly solve?" said Geoffrey Cook, CEO of The Meet Group. Potential buyers for Grindr could include Match. Mark Brooks, a consultant in the dating industry, said Spark Networks and The Meet Group could be among other potential contenders.
Rela, a Chinese Lesbian Dating App, Exposed 5M User Profiles
TECH CRUNCH - Rela, a popular dating app for gay and queer women, has exposed millions of user profiles and private data because a server wasn't protected with a password. Rela disappeared from app stores in May 2017 after it was reportedly shut down by Chinese regulators, though the government never confirmed it took action. But the app returned a year later, according to its app store listing, on a different cloud provider. Victor Gevers, a security researcher at the GDI Foundation, found the exposed database this week, containing ~5.3M app users. It's believed the database had been exposed since June 2018, a month after the app returned, Gevers said. Each record included their nicknames, dates of birth, height and weight, ethnicity and sexual preferences and interests. A company spokesperson confirmed the database had been secured.
Tinder co-Founder Asks Court to Dismiss $250M Lawsuit From Tinder's Owner
THE VERGE - Mar 26 - Tinder co-founder and former CEO Sean Rad has asked the New York Supreme Court to dismiss a $250M lawsuit against him by Match Group and IAC, the owners of Tinder. Match claims that Rad copied internal files and proprietary information before he left the company, violating his employment contract. In his motion to dismiss, however, Rad says the contract gave him the right to back up internal emails and hold on to those correspondences even after his tenure at Tinder ended. Match's claims are meant to counter a multibillion-dollar lawsuit from Rad. In August 2018, Rad and other former Tinder employees sued Match Group and IAC over claims that the company purposefully undervalued Tinder to avoid having to pay the team billions more in equity. Now Match is countersuing, alleging that Rad copied "highly sensitive, non-public information" about Tinder business strategies and plans.'
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Once Launched Once Again, a Dating App for Users 50+
LADN.EU - Apr 1 - Slow dating app Once is launching a new app for users in their 50s. The app is called Once Again. 88% of Once users who spend more than 30 minutes a day on the app are over 50 years old. The fifties also represents 34% of the user base of the app.
Tinder Hires a New Chief Product Officer to Keep College Kids on the App
THE VERGE - Apr 1 - Ravi Mehta comes to Tinder from Facebook where he was the product director for youth engagement and helped develop Lasso, Facebook's TikTok competitor. Tinder says Mehta has "spearheaded efforts to understand how Gen Z (users between ages 18 and 22) spends their time online and identified key product opportunities for this demographic." Last year, Tinder released Tinder U, its college student-only service that requires users to have an active .edu email address and be on campus. This year, it also developed its Spring Break Mode that lets Tinder U users select their spring break vacation spot and then swipe on potential matches ahead of arriving.
Facebook Extends Its Dating Service to Mexico, Argentina
CNET - Mar 28 - Facebook has added Mexico and Argentina to the list of countries where its matchmaking service is offered. The dating service launched in September for users in Colombia, with later expansion to Canada and Thailand. Facebook also gave a preview of some new features users can expect in the near future, including one that appears to be designed to address safety concerns. The feature, called Live Location Sharing, allows users to share their date plans and live location with a friend or family member on Facebook via Messenger.
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Grindr Defeats Appeal Over Harassment on Gay Dating App
REUTERS - Mar 27 - A U.S. federal appeals court refused to hold Grindr liable to a New York man who said his former boyfriend used the gay dating app to post fake profiles, in a harassment campaign that caused 1,000 men to approach the victim for sex. The man sued Grindr in Jan. 2017, and a federal judge dismissed his case a year later, prompting the appeal. His lawyer Tor Ekeland said he was "disappointed but not surprised" by Wednesday's decision because courts are "extremely deferential to big tech" when interpreting the CDA (Communications Decency Act). "Apps are being used to stalk, rape and murder. Under the court's reading of the CDA, big tech companies don't have responsibility to do anything about it, even if they know it is happening. Congress needs to amend this statute," he said.
Founder of Muzmatch: 'Muslims Don't Date, We Marry'
BBC - Mar 25 - Shahzad Younas is the founder and CEO of Muslim dating site and app Muzmatch. Two years ago, Shahzad was in San Fran pitching Muzmatch at a global competition to win backing from prestigious Silicon Valley investment firm Y Combinator. He opened his address to the room by saying: "Muslims don't date, we marry." Y Combinator offers financial and practical support to a number of new start-ups per year. ~13K applied at the same time as Muzmatch, and it was one of 800 whose founders were invited to pitch in person. Muzmatch was given $1.5M (Ł1.2M), one of 100 start-ups that got backing in 2017. Today the fast-growing company says it currently has ~1M registered users across the UK and other countries. With a second office in Bangladesh, Muzmatch operates a "freemium" business model. It is free to use its basic service, but users can pay ~Ł10 a month for extra features such as unlimited viewing of profiles, and having their profile seen by more people. The company says its annual turnover is now~Ł4.5M.
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