[Air-L] Ethical practices in scraping data from gay dating apps

Griffin Boyce griffin at cryptolab.net
Thu Mar 15 16:08:19 PDT 2018

I scraped Grindr data for a some one-off experiments* a couple of years ago (primarily location, username, basic demographics, not photos). You're on the right path by asking permission, and I would say that hashing data (as mentioned) is a good option for obfuscating the details. Check out Aaron Segal's paper on intersectional PII privacy protection[1].

The big advice I'd give is to narrow your scope as much as is practical for your project. If you don't need photos/username/profile contents, then don't seek them. But then again, I'm not sure what format the data is in or if Jack'd might give you firehose public API access or will be selective about what data you can receive.


* funny story
[1] https://www.usenix.org/conference/foci14/workshop-program/presentation/segal

On March 15, 2018 5:41:37 PM EDT, Lik Sam Chan <liksamch at usc.edu> wrote:
>Hi all,
>I am designing a study to explore racism in a gay dating app (Jack'd).
>plan to collect self-reported data of the user (freely available to
>using the app) and types of people the particular user is interested in
>(available to premium users). I am planning to write a python script to
>collect samples from several major cities in the world -- therefore, I
>believe using automated data scraping technique will be more efficient
>manually taking screen-shot of the users' profiles.
>I am aware of the recent controversy about scraping users' profile from
>Tinder (
>I am also aware that some researchers have used automated scraping
>techniques in studying Grindr (
>I am aware that the app prohibits data scraping so I plan to officially
>contact them for their permission.
>I am interested in ways in which, after getting permission from the
>company, I can collect data in an ethical way, including how to protect
>privacy of the users.
>- - - - - -
>Lik Sam CHAN, Ph.D.
>Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, USC
>liksamchan.com | @liksamchan
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