You might be swiping to find love, but on many dating sites the real match you may be making is with advertisers.
A new report from Ghostery, which creates products to detect and block data trackers, reveals which dating sites are tracking your data the most.
Ghostery examined the eight largest dating sites (only their websites, not their corresponding apps) in the United States — including Tinder, OkCupid, and Match — to find potential trackers. Ghostery’s president, Jeremy Tillman, explained in a call with Mashable, that a data tracker is a snippet of code that companies such as Facebook and Amazon can implement onto other sites.
Sites usually load the trackers themselves and they know they’re there. (This may not be the case, however, for “piggybacking trackers,” where one tracker lets others “piggyback” of it.) Tracking like this is done for multiple reasons, but usually it’s used for advertising or analytics purposes.
Ad trackers on dating sites, for example, retarget the user on other websites. If a user, say, goes to Match’s website, the next time they go on Facebook they may be served an ad for Match. Simply put, these trackers send information to third parties. The site or app that has the tracker on it gets potential advertising revenue while the trackers (Facebook, etc.) get user data.
Ghostery found that all of the top eight dating sites use trackers.
Match had the most trackers with, followed by OkCupid and OurTime, both with 25. Badoo had the least: 9.
As for which companies are involved, Facebook and Google had trackers on all eight sites. Instagram appeared on Tinder and OkCupid, while Amazon appeared on OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, Match, Zoosk, and OurTime.
For those who want to block these trackers, you can customize settings on Facebook to opt out of personalized advertising. There are also resources like Ghostery to install on desktop. Tillman said that they have plans to release a mobile version that does the same thing.
UPDATE: Feb. 11, 2020, 8:29 p.m. EST This article has been updated to include a statement from Match Group.