The popular dating app Lovoo, like many other such apps, provides a radar function that allows users to view the approximate location of other users to contact nearby people. However, the function is so accurate that it is easy to determine the exact location.
Lovoo specifies the location of a user to 100 meters exactly. If this information is not yet clear in a city in a central location, this is often sufficient for a clear localization of individual users in more rural regions. But Lovoo also offers an API that can be used to gather information from other users. If you now use several locations and the API query, you can use a simple geometric location method to create motion profiles of individual users and determine their exact location, like data journalists of the Bavarian Radio found out in a research. The location of a single user is up to 30 meters accurate. Site information can also be linked to other user-provided information such as sexual orientation or images.
No security hole, but bad privacy
For their research, the data journalists used the API in the urban area of Munich for several days to collect the data of numerous users at a time interval of 15 minutes. They had previously received a tip that the location query via an API was possible. Based on the movement profiles, the place of residence and work can be determined, if one uses a sufficiently large radius with devices for location inquiry. Although only data from men between 25 years and 27 years with an interest in women was retrieved in the test, the BR received after five days a record with several hundred users in Munich, which regularly opened the Lovoo app. From the perspective of Bavarian Radio Lovoo has not adequately protected users' data through API access. However, there is no security vulnerability, as reported by many media, because the API functions and localization are intentionally implemented.
Disable radar function in the app
In the settings of the Lovoo app, users can prevent the disclosure of their location in the radar function, which makes it difficult for intrusive contemporaries to locate their location.
Other dating apps share location inaccurately
Competitors such as Tinder also track the location of their users and reveal this to others. However, not to 100 meters exactly, but to just 1,000 meters, which makes a location difficult and inaccurate. The homegrown app Grindr was used by the Egyptian police in 2014 to locate and arrest them. Grindr then disabled the feature in Egypt and other countries.
Lovoo already for fake profiles in the review
Lovoo has been criticized earlier, when it was revealed that the company uses fake profiles to persuade users to spend money. The lawsuit against Lovoo was discontinued after payment of 1.2 million euros. Meanwhile, the app was sold to a US company.
Update 09.08.2019 21:03 clock