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Ever lied on your Tinder profile? You could go to jail for that

The ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging an act that makes lying on your dating profile a federal crime and hinders investigations into racial discrimination online.
ACLU
"We think [the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act] hinders important research and investigative journalism, violates the First Amendment, and could makes criminals of us all," the ACLU tweeted. Photo: Google Commons

If you’ve ever lied on your Tinder profile, you could be guilty of more than disappointing many a first date. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act makes it a federal crime to access a computer in a manner that “exceeds authorized access,” but the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the act.

This means creating a second Facebook profile, lying on dating apps or copy-and-pasting text from a website could land you in the slammer.

Tinder allows users to find a date or a hook up with a flick of a finger and apps like Hinge and OKCupid have followed suit.

The author of Vanity Fair’s article “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse’” tweeted data by market research firm GlobalWebIndex alleging 30 percent of Tinder users at the time are married. The data was based on 34 percent of global Tinder swipers (1,282 adults who said they had used Tinder in the last month).

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Twitter contested the number citing its own survey of 265,000 users that found only 1.7 percent of Tinder users were married. Anyway you swipe it, people lie.

More than half of online daters said dates have “seriously misrepresented” themselves in their profiles, according to a 2013 study by the nonprofit Pew Research Center’s “Internet & American Life Project.”

Sure, it sucks when your date walks in and instead of the stallion you saw in photos, he’s a broken-down ass, but should he really go to jail for it? We've all suffered through bad dates, but we're talking actual federal prison.

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act has even greater consequences.

“This provision of the law often prohibits and chills academics, researchers, and journalists from testing for discrimination on the internet,” according to the ACLU. “The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in June 2016. The plaintiffs are academic researchers, computer scientists, and journalists who wish to investigate companies’ online practices through standard academic and journalistic techniques, but are limited by the terms of service of target websites.”

The contested provision prohibits a person from violating a website’s terms and conditions; however, this could put a freeze on audit testing and investigations looking to uncover online discrimination.

Targeted advertising is a part of online life, accepted and expected by social media users, but there have been some instances of targeting based on gender or race, according to the ACLU.

The ACLU cites studies showing that websites use demographic data to steer, for example, people of color or people who live in communities of color, to more expensive car insurance or ads for “predatory” loans.

One study found searches for names typically associated with black people are more likely to bring up ads for criminal records. Another study found Google shows ads for higher paying executive jobs to users presumed to be men.

So, why is the ACLU fighting the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act?

Because that act makes the auditing necessary to identify discrimination illegal — be it racial discrimination or employment and housing discrimination.

“In the offline world, audit testing has long been recognized as a crucial way to uncover racial discrimination in housing and employment, and to vindicate civil rights laws such as the Fair Housing Act and Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination in employment,” according to the ACLU. “Courts and Congress have long encouraged such socially useful testing and investigations.”

A hearing was scheduled for Oct. 20. The ACLU did not return a request for comment as of press time.  

 
 
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