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If you’re a heterosexual man on Tinder, you should double check that the person you’re chatting to is who you think they are. A computer engineer has discovered that the openness of the app’s API allowed him to set up unknowing men via a fake female profile they both believed that they were talking to, in an elaborate Tinder hack.
An unnamed California computer engineer, unimpressed by the unpleasant advances his female friends were getting on the dating app, was investigating ways to automatically publish the opening flirtations to Twitter, when he realized that the Twitter API had few safeguards to prevent deeper tinkering.
“Tinder makes it surprisingly easy to bot their system. As long as you have a Facebook authentication token, you can behave as a robot as if you were a person,” he told The Verge.
The result of the Tinder hack was 40 fake conversations in the first 12 hours, where straight men accidentally flirted with each other, creating bemused conversations like this one captured by The Verge:
Many other examples are on The Verge’s site – some less safe for work than others.
The hacker was watching conversations closely, ready to step in if real-world meet-ups were arranged, and he also took care to scramble the phone numbers to protect the men involved. Those tricked take the news in a number of different ways – bemusement, anger, amusement. At least one man wanted to meet his chat partner to share a laugh over their accidental encounter. But does the hacker feel bad for the men stung by his Tinder hack?
“They ignore all the signs, they ignore all the weird things,” he explained. “When someone is so quick to meet up without any detail or know anything about the person at all — maybe it’s deserved,” he concluded.
As Tech Crunch points out, Tinder hacks are nothing new, with some maximizing their chances on the app with automatic right swipes (the app’s way of saying yes to a match), and a more damaging exploit allowing very accurate geolocation of its users, as reported by We Live Security here.
Like any app involving personal details, we’d always recommend following some simple safety tips with Tinder. The video below will give you some helpful hints:
Author Alan Martin, ESET