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Dating sites tracking your online history

Posted at 6:29 PM, Feb 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-16 17:46:36-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — If you're using dating apps to find love, you could get stuck with the wrong cookies this Valentines Day.

Allison Moise spent the day hanging out with friends and hundreds of others downtown Fort Myers. She said she’s tried dating sites herself.

“I met a few people, but not too much luck,” she said with a chuckle.

But, she said she stopped after striking out and learning apps like Tinder, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish use digital cookies or trackers to store your information and send you advertisements.

“It definitely kind of turns me away from that aspect of dating world,” she said.

Cindy MacFarlane who’s married but has friends using dating sites says those cookies violate user privacy.

“I’m still concerned with it getting to some place that it shouldn’t go,” she said.

In a statement, Match Group - which owns Tinder,, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish - said the company uses cookies to secure and improve their services, tailor ads to user interests, but they do not sell user data.

“Match Group companies use cookies to provide, secure and improve their services, measure site performance and usage and tailor ads to users’ interests. We do not sell user data. We understand that nothing is more important on a dating site than keeping personal information personal, which is why, unlike other tech companies whose business models rely on the sale of personal information, ours is subscription-based and reliant on engendering trust and being a great experience for users, not the sale of data.”

Moise said she’s not surprised dating sites store cookies on your apps and web browsers.

“That’s how they make their business,” she said. “I think it’s a good thing for the companies that are using the data, but I think it’s a bad thing, because our privacy is being exposed,” she said.

Evan Lutz with Cigent Cybersecurity said you don’t have to be exposed.

“I recommend using incognito mode, which will delete any cookies acquired from your browsing session,” he said.

The web browser Google Chrome offers the incognito option. Safari allows you to open a private session. Lutz also said Duck Duck Go is a surefire way to protect your information.

“They don’t track any of your information, and you can verify that in your own web browser,” he said.

The private browsers work just if you’re accessing the dating sites online. Those browsers won’t protect you if you’re using the actual app itself.

Dating sites aren’t the only ones that track your history. So, it’s a good idea to use an incognito or private browser for any online activity.