Personal Info of 70,000 Dating Site Users Leaked to Public Without Their Consent, Including Intimate Sexual Details
One of the side benefits of being a celibate is that you don’t have any private, potentially embarrassing sexual details to be made public because they don’t exist.
The researchers who dumped this data sound like real a**holes.
- by Emma Woollacott CONTRIBUTOR
- May 2016
- The (very) personal data of 70,000 members of the dating site OKCupid has been released – not by hackers, but by university researchers.
- The information includes everything from sexual turn-ons to drug use. And while it doesn’t identify individuals by name, it does include usernames – which may well be enough to make it possible to work out users’ real identities.
- Danish researchers Emil Kirkegaard and Julius Bjerrekær, associated with Aarhus University, collected the data by scraping the site – arguably, perfectly legitimately.
- Logged-in members of OKCupid can see a certain amount of information on other site users, and it would in theory be possible to trawl through the lot to put together the dataset.
- …The researchers even say that the only reason they haven’t published users’ photos is that it would have taken up too much hard drive space.
- ….They point out that the data can only questionably be described as public, as accessing it required logging into the site. And, they say, “Kirkegaard’s dataset needlessly exposes marginalised people to stalking, harassment and violence by individuals, communities and nation states.”
- ..“This is a clear violation of our terms of service – and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act – and we’re exploring legal options,” says an OKCupid spokesman.
However, mathematician Paul-Olivier Dehaye, an OKCupid member, says he will today write to the company accusing it of a failure to keep his personal data safe and seeking arbitration.
“OKCupid has a history of encouraging reckless and unethical data mining, and this is also an opportunity to see if they defend double standards,” he says.
Meanwhile, though, the data is out there, and has already been accessed hundreds of times. One researcher, software engineer Max Woolf, has already used it to produce an analysis of dating age range preferences – before discovering how the data was collected and removing his post.