Popular dating app Tinder is investigating the theft of 40,000 user profile pictures after a programmer made the images public as part of a “facial dataset.”
The collection, which is now reportedly offline, was built after programmer Stuart Colianni wrote a program to specifically rip the images, claiming that he intended to “use them for machine learning research.”
“This is a simple script that exploits the Tinder API to allow a person to build a facial dataset,” declared Colianni about the script, which is currently available on GitHub. “Having worked with facial datasets in the past, I have often been disappointed. The datasets tend to be extremely strict in their structure, and are usually too small.”
“Tinder gives you access to thousands of people within miles of you,” he continued. “Why not leverage Tinder to build a better, larger facial dataset?”
The dating app, however, claimed that the incident violated their terms of service, and requested that the collection of images be removed from the internet.
“This person has violated our terms of service (Sec. 11) and we are taking appropriate action and investigating further,” the company proclaimed in a statement, though they also admitted that anyone could find peoples’ images on the app.
“People would have an assumption that their profile is quite private,” said security researcher Glenn Wilkinson to the BBC. “People do like to keep their dating and work life separate — but if you use the same photo on Tinder and LinkedIn, those things could get linked together.”
In March, dozens of Tinder accounts were suspended from the platform after a scam went viral, becoming popular with the service’s younger userbase.
The tactic started with a female user uploading a seductive picture to the online dating app, along with a bio description that simply states: “Send me $5, see what happens.”
After a male sent the user $5, or sometimes even more, they would be swiftly unmatched.
Several users boasted about making hundreds of dollars through the scam before being caught and banned from the service.