Grindr may not be liable in lawsuit after 400 men turn up for sex with man from fake profiles
Grindr may not be liable in a legal challenge after more than 400 men turned up to have sex with a man after someone posed as him using fake profiles.
Matthew Herrick, 32, alleges that he has had dozens of reports of fake profiles ignored by the gay dating app, saying “my entire life has been stolen from me”.
He accuses Grindr of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false advertising, and deceptive business practices for allowing him to be impersonated and turned into an unwitting beacon for stalkers and harassers.
But the app may not be liable, as District Judge Valerie Caproni this week said that it may be sheltered from prosecution.
The federal Communications Decency Act (CDA) could apply meaning Grindr is simply a “neutral” app that displays third party content, in this case from his ex, described only as JC.
Caproni had declined to extend a temporary restraining order requiring Grindr to “disable” any profiles pretending to be Herrick.
The problem started when a man turned up at Mr Herrick’s apartment, expecting to have sex.
He explained to the man that he had not been on the app.
The person at his door went on to show the Grindr profile and conversation, including semi-nude photos of Mr Herrick, which had been taken from his Instagram.
The original fake profile was reported to Grindr, but within days there were many more.
Ever since as many as eight or nine men a day have been turning up at his apartment, and even turning up to the restaurant where he works with the expectation of sex.
He now estimates more than 400 men have turned up to see him thinking they’re about to hook-up due to the fake profiles.
In one terrifying example, the person impersonating him claimed that he had a “rape fantasy”.
The man who turned up – assuming he had been talking to Mr Herrick on the app – refused to leave the apartment while Mr Herrick and his flatmate had to physically remove him.
In another occasion six men turned up expecting an orgy, having spoken to the fake profile.
Even after a judge signed an injunctive relief order to force Grindr to stop the impersonating profiles, at least 24 men have come to his home and work.
Mr Herrick alleges that it is his ex boyfriend spawning the fake profiles, who knows his address and workplace, as well as giving out his mobile number.
His ex boyfriend denies the allegations.
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WIRED reports him saying: “My entire life has been stolen from me.
“My privacy has been taken from me.
“I’m humiliated daily,” says Herrick, “It’s a living hell.”
Court documents state he is in a “constant state of hyper-vigilence, afraid that Grindr has been used to incite or seduce the wrong person – somebody who will make good on threats to attack or rape [me]”.
The lawsuit alleges that despite more than 50 complaints, Grindr has failed to deal with the fake profiles or block the user.
When a similar fake profile appeared on Scruff, he says the app took immediate action, removing the profile and blocking the IP address from creating any new accounts.