PositiveSingles is an online service that caters to both gay and straight singles living with STDs ranging from herpes, to HPV, to syphilis, and more. It has now been sued for sharing users’ pictures and profile details with other dating websites, despite promising that it was a “100% confidential and comfortable community” that “[does] not disclose, sell or rent any personally identifiable information to any third-party organizations.”
It all started back to 2011 when an unnamed user accused the parent company of PositiveSingles, SuccessfulMatch, of a privacy breach.
SuccessfulMatch runs a number of niche dating sites, including Herpesinmouth, PositivelyKinky, AIDSDate, ChristianSafeHaven, and MeetBlackPOZ. The company also sells software to entrepreneurs looking to set up their own dating websites. That software, however, contains details of “hundreds of thousands of profiles” registered to SuccessfulMatch’s existing services.
“Plaintiff is… not black, gay, Christian or HIV-positive and was unaware that defendant was creating websites that focused on such traits that would include his profile, thus indicating that he was all of these things and more,” his lawyers argued.
Defense attorneys said that after a user completes their registration, a link to the website’s terms of services pops up, which notes that profile details — which include information about HIV and other STD statuses — may be shared with other websites within the SuccessfulMatch network, and that by posting a profile to the site, users agree to this.
But the jury wasn’t convinced.
This week, jurors ruled that SuccessfulMatch made misleading statements and ordered the company pay $1.5 million in compensatory damages and another $15 million in punitive damages.
A spokesman for SuccessfulMatch was not able to say whether the company plans to appeal the verdict.
Well, we definitely know which dating website we won’t be visiting any time soon!