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All addresses you provide will be used just for sending this story. Facebook Dating made its official debut in the United States this month, marking the tech giant's entry into yet another online business—and raising questions about how the company could eventually use the new data it collects.

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Online romantics may be skeptical about trusting Facebook with dating information, despite promises by the company to protect their data. Facebook has a history of privacy scandals, and generates revenue by using consumers' personal information to sell targeted advertising. The big, established dating apps collect plenty of intimate information about their users, and they know things that even Facebook doesn't. But these apps aren't as dependent on advertising for their revenue, reducing one concern for people who care about their privacy. Instead, these companies make money primarily by selling subscriptions and upgrades to their services.

Methodology

You can start using most dating apps for free, but the experience is often better if you pay to upgrade. In the first half ofconsumers spent more money on the Tinder app than any other non-gaming app in the world, according to Lexi Sydow, senior market insights manager for App Annie, an analytics company. For its part, Facebook says it won't use any Dating information for advertising.

However, targeted advertising isn't the only reason to consider privacy confidential you are providing information to a company. Whether you use Facebook Dating or more-established dating apps, there are still good reasons to think about dating your data is going, who has access to it, and how it may be used.

As you swipe, type, and meet up with online matches, dating apps are collecting all sorts of information. They gather a lot of data from your smartphone, too. Most ask for access to your locationand many sponge up details such as your contacts, your photos, WiFi and website connections, and files on your device. You can use your phone's permissions settings to limit some of that tracking.

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You might never choose to share those thousands of intimate facts with a friend or family member, but if you use dating apps, you are providing the information to companies that will collect and retain every detail. Or, more likely, you are sharing the information with one particular company.

Introduction

Name a dating app at random and there's a good chance a single company called Match Group owns it. A handful of popular alternatives owned by other companies include Bumble, eHarmony, and Grindr. Match Group's dating apps reserve the right to share data with one another. That means choosing an upstart like Hinge won't keep your personal information out of the hands of a big tech company.

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Additionally, experts say, no online database can be perfectly secure from hackers or simple human error. And just a day before Facebook Dating hit the United States, TechCrunch reported that million user records held by the company were exposed online.

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Advertising looms in the background of most conversations about digital privacybut dating apps demonstrate that it's not the only way for tech companies to turn personal data into a business model. But when the dating industry does use its data for advertising, it's highly prized. Most online dating users fall in the toyear-old range, a coveted audience for advertisers.

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Details about individuals in that marketing sweet spot are valuable, according to Jeff Greenfield, chief attribution officer and co-founder of the advertising attribution firm C3 Metrics. In response to a string of questions from Consumer Reports, Facebook said in an that data collected through Facebook Dating will not be used for advertising, improving or building artificial intelligence systems, or other business purposes.

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The company has also said it has no plans for a subscription service within the Dating platform. When you set up a Facebook Dating profile the app encourages you to give it access to your smartphone's location, one of the most valuable data points for targeted. To use it, you have to open up the regular Facebook app, head over to the Dating tab, and opt in. If Facebook Dating becomes a popular place to find a match, people will find themselves on the social network more often.

More engagement with other parts of the Facebook means data collection and more ad dollars. I want to live in a world where consumers take advantage of technology, not the other way around. Access to reliable information is the way to make that happen, and that's why I spend my time chasing it down.

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Please call Member Services at As Facebook launches its new dating service, here's a look at what dating apps do with your personal information. By Thomas Germain. September 21, Sharing is Nice Yes, send me a copy of this.

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Guide to Digital Security and Privacy. Thomas Germain I want to live in a world where consumers take advantage of technology, not the other way around. More From Consumer Reports. Show comments commenting powered by Facebook. Make a Donation Newsletters Give a Gift.