Pheramor claims right to sell user data from DNA dating site


The Houston, Texas-based online dating startup Pheramor claims to use 11 "attraction genes" taken from DNA samples in its matchmaking algorithm. Launched in February 2018 in Houston with 3,000 users, Pheramor also encourages users to connect it to their social media profiles so it can datamine them for personality traits and common interests. Members pay $19.99 plus a $10 monthly fee and send in a cheek swab using a kit Pheramor supplies. In response, the company combines the genetic and social information to offer a selection of optimised mates in your area, their images blurred and sporting a compatibility score. The app will next roll out a feature called Second Date, which will track users' locations and know if they meet up with one of their matches, and then survey the users. If they liked each other, the app will serve up more profiles of similar matches. 

However, it's unclear whether genetics plays any role in attraction, and there is even doubt that pheromones exist - and if they do how they work is uncertain. What is certain is that users of this app are giving away extraordinary amounts of sensitive information about themselves that can be later built into personality profiles and sold. Pharamor reserves the right in its privacy policy to sell user information to third parties, but the company CEO says the provision is just to protect them legally. For the moment, the only organisation they share the data with is a large cancer registry because the same genes Pheramor looks at can be used to determine whether someone can be a stem cell donor for people with leukemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell disease.
Writer: Megan Molteni
Publication: Wired

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