Section 230

Suit Against Grindr Over Harassment Is Part of a Trending Assault on Internet Freedom

On Monday, a federal appeals court considered Grindr's guilt in a case involving app-based impersonators.

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Jonathan Brady/ZUMA Press/Newscom

"Grindr knew," states Matthew Herrick's lawsuit against Grindr, the hookup app for gay men. Herrick and his lawyers say they filed many reports with the site over users purporting to be him. Even so, there wasn't much that Grindr could do about it. Each time it blocked an offending profile, Herrick's vengeful ex-partner created a new one, using different anonymous details for the profile but posing as Herrick to prospective sex partners over direct message. Herrick's suit claims that his ex did this to direct sex-seeking men to his home and workplace daily for several months.

For the past few years, Herrick has been trying to hold Grindr financially responsible for the harassment, which he endured between the fall of 2016 and early 2017. Today, his case was heard before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Some are framing the case as a way to address both Grindr's negligence and toothless federal laws. "Herrick's story echoes the online harassment that many people have experienced, often with little to no legal consequences for the companies that created the technology in question," NBC reports. "A 1996 law designed to foster free speech online generally protects companies from liability."

The relevant part of that law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), has been under fire from many angles recently, often by those with little understanding of what the law actually does and no real consideration on what a world without it would look like. Meanwhile, media and Congress say repealing Section 230 would cure much of what ails us online.

Grindr blocked the impersonating profiles and users. It just couldn't keep a highly motivated ex from finding ways around these bans. Herrick's suit suggests the site should have done more, such as banning the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) to access Grindr, or scanning phrases and photos sent through direct messages in order to screen them for matches to his image, address, etc. But to take these steps would seriously compromise the privacy of all Grindr users. They are far from the simple software tweaks Herricks' suit suggests.

NBC claims that Section 230 has allowed space for tech companies "to introduce products without much forethought about the hazards they could create." That's one hell of a misrepresentation. Effectively filtering out prohibited content and dealing with suspected abuse has become a lodestar for (and bane of) all sorts of social platforms, from dating apps to Facebook, digital marketplaces like Backpage and Craigslist, video platforms like YouTube, review sites like Yelp, and so many more.

It's a huge and complicated problem, and it's laughable to suggest tech companies aren't trying to address them. Most of the major platforms have faced lawsuits related to these issues. An inability to verify user identities has fueled two years of political ballyhooing. The problem is that motivated actors can game the best of online systems, just as they did old fashioned ones.

The "fixes" desired by activists, politicians, and plaintiffs, meanwhile, can introduce more problems than they solve.

"Online harassment is a serious problem, and one that defies easy solutions," write Rebecca Jeschke and Jamie Lee Williams of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which filed an amicus brief in support of Grindr. "As the digital world grapples with potential strategies to make online life safer, we have to also fight back against misguided approaches that would undercut what makes the Internet an essential tool for modern life."

They add that

Section 230 does not mean that victims of online harassment have nowhere to turn. Most jurisdictions have laws against abusive speech. Law enforcement needs to get smarter about online harassment so it can protect people in danger, while courts should become comfortable with legal remedies against online perpetrators. We hope that the appeals court recognizes that holding platforms responsible is not the answer, and dismisses this case.

Herrick's appeal says this is "a case about a company abdicating responsibility for a dangerous product it released into the stream of commerce." It accuses Grindr of releasing a defective product that is "fundamentally unsafe."

NBC suggests that this argument "could reshape consumers' relationship with software, alter speech protections online and put pressure on Silicon Valley to find flaws in products before introducing them to the world." That's overselling the stakes quite a bit.

No matter the new language Herrick's lawyers are using, this is still a case that conflicts with Section 230 and the First Amendment. Herrick's case was previously rejected on such grounds last year, when a federal court agreed with defendants that Section 230 barred Herrick's claims against Grindr. And Herrick's appeal offers little that was not contained in his initial argument.

In a January 2018 opinion, U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni noted that the CDA "bars Herrick's products liability claims and his claims that Grindr must do more to remove impersonating profiles. Each of these claims depends on holding Grindr responsible for the content created by one of its users." Meanwhile, "Herrick's misrepresentation-related claims fail on the merits because Herrick has not alleged a misleading or false statement by Grindr or that Grindr's alleged misstatements are the cause of his injury."

Carponi added that "although Herrick contends that Grindr is not an 'interactive computer service' … the Court finds that there is no plausible basis to argue that it is not." And Herrick's attempts to identify "any legally significant distinction between a social networking platform accessed through a website, such as Facebook, and a social-networking platform accessed through a smart phone app, such as Grindr," failed as well. "In either case, the platform connects users to a central server and to each other."

NEXT: Gorsuch and Sotomayor Join Forces in Defense of Sixth Amendment Rights

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  1. In before Tony.

    1. Well played.
      While it’s no guarantee, I do suspect that drastically reduces your chances of getting syphilis

      1. Good point!

  2. Christ in a teacup. How much simpler his life would have been if he’d gotten signup details from Grindr for all those fake accounts and prosecuted his ex for harassment! I don’t know more than is presented here, but I find it hard to believe Grindr would not have cooperated, not only because they could probably have been sued for not cooperating, but because doing their best to clear out fake accounts and to keep existing customers happy would be in their best business interest.

    It would be interesting to know if he and his lawyers tried that, why not, or what happened, but in the absence of any other reports, I’m left guessing just general snowflake outrage.

    1. From the linked article:

      Herrick took action against his ex, filing 14 police reports.

    2. The ex used a VPN and anonymous details.

    3. I hadn’t read the linked article. That does make a difference, but it still smells fishy to me — how can you create an anonymous account on a web site dedicated to meetups? Every account I have signed up for has sent a confirmation email with a link to click. Yes, that would make it harder to track down, but not impossible, and all that effort just makes the guilt all the more evident once proven.

      Maybe the fault is with relying on police to uncover the truth when a lot of jurisdictions won’t even come out to homes for burglaries. Another instance better handled by victim prosecution than relying on the government.

      1. Things like MailDrop allow you to create a temporary e-mail for things like that.

      2. You know you can have more than one email account. I have three Gmail accounts alone, along with a Yahoo one, and about a dozen long-abandoned ones. Oh, and technically one from my ISP.

        Its so easy to make an email account they’re basically throwaway.

    4. Yep. Go after the criminals, not the passive communication technology. We don’t sue a doorbell manufacturer for ring and run harassment. The trend that started with FOSTA is continuing. Victims find it easier to sue a technology corporation than press charges against a harasser, because of peer pressure.

  3. It’s a huge and complicated problem.

    It’s not that complicated. Law enforcement has been loathe to treat any harassment that involves the internet as serious. Lacking any such criminal redress, an understandably agrieved man would seek redress elsewhere. In this case, the company that’s been facilitating his harassment.

    Or to put it another way… when your system denies justice, the unjustly wronged will seek it elsewhere. In this case, civil court.

    Which isn’t to say he should win. Just that the situation isn’t that complicated and is very easy to understand.

    1. I see what you are saying. But if using the system was allowing his ex to harrass him, why didn’t he just get off Grinder? It would be one thing if he had nothing to do with Grindr and the ap somehow allowed his ex to stalk him. Then I would be wiling to maybe hold Grindr responsible for something. It looks to me, however, that the only reason the ex was able to stalk this guy is because he kept using the ap. That is not Grindr’s fault that he appearently can’t go a day without hooking up with someone.

      1. Did you read the article?

      2. But the app did allow his ex to direct sex-seeking men to his home and workplace, through false profiles purporting to be him. Whether he had his own account wouldn’t have mattered.

      3. Do you ever read the article?

      4. You… really didn’t read the article.

        The problem was not Herrick being on Grindr, or the ex stalking him.

        The problem was that the ex would make a fake profile on Grindr claiming to be Herrick. When the ex hooked a guy, he would send the guy Herrick’s real information (address for work or home). The hooked guy would then show up at Herrick’s work/home.

        Your assumptions of Herrick’s use are both baseless and irrelevant even if true.

        1. could Grindr sue the ex for fraud? (And win)

          1. I could try to armchair lawyer that one, but the bottom-line is that there’s no evidence presented that Grindr pursued that course of action. Presumably their lawyers are more then armchair-qualified.

          2. How was Grindr harmed? What money did they lose because of the ex’s fraud? Without specific and tangible evidence of harm, Grindr wouldn’t have standing to get into court in the first place.

          3. Eh, they might have a case with a TOS violation but not fraud.

      5. It wouldn’t have mattered.

        The ex is meeting people and sending this guy’s address as the meetup place. He could have never been on Grindr at all – ever – and the ex still can send people to his door.

        If I had your address I could send them to you. Hell, I could send them to the White House (if they were really dumb).

      6. It’s not the technology, it’s the harasser. His ex could easily follow him on another website or app or just spread rumors. In the 1980’s someone would write “For a good time, call ***-867-5309,” on a bathroom stall. Or the cop across the street would spread the word about someone to his closest friends and allies. I haven’t seen the McCarthy’s in a long time.

    2. when your system denies justice, the unjustly wronged will seek it elsewhere

      Back in the good old days, a person could just call the A*Team.

      1. Back in the older good old days, a person could take a baseball bat and explain to the ex what is no longer allowed.
        Not about gay sex, of course; that did not exist in the older good old days – – – – – –

        1. Oooh, that explains Tattaum’s friends from the drug rehab program beating up her ex-boyfriend/ current boyfriend depending on what stage in her monthly cycle she’s in.

    3. It’s not just harassment on the internet, it’s non-violent harassment anywhere. The problem is he is getting justice, it’s just not the result he wants.

      Grindr is closing down accounts they are aware of and he isn’t being harmed by his ex’s antics just being made uncomfortable. Now if only we could get rid of that 1A thingy then he could see some real justice.

      1. There’s a continuum between criticism and harassment. The standard is the intent of the actor and whether a reasonable person would feel afraid given the behavior.

  4. The Joe from Lowell and Tony Love affair gone wrong spills onto the pages of reason and all the way to the Supreme Court.

    Maybe if you have a lunatic Ex who is stalking you on some hook up ap, you should just lie low and give up on the anonomous sex for a while. Just a thought. Perhaps having a lunatic ex at all should make you reconsider your choice of anonomous gay sex as a recreational activity.

    1. Each time it blocked an offending profile, Herrick’s vengeful ex-partner created a new one, using different anonymous details for the profile but posing as Herrick to prospective sex partners over direct message. Herrick’s suit claims that his ex did this to direct sex-seeking men to his home and workplace daily for several months.

      I get the feeling you missed something.

      1. I am not sure how that is a crime. It probably is a tort if taken to the extreme but I don’t see how it is a crime. So, you can’t blame the police for not doing anything.

        Really the only solution to this is for the guy to sue his ex for a restraining order preventing him from doing this. Then when he does it, he is violating a court order and you have a crime.

        As far as Grindr goes, i don’t see how they could do anything to prevent it. There is no way to tell who is at the other end of the IP address and no way to control what the person tells someone once they are on the sytem.

        The whole thing sucks but sometimes life sucks. The problem is the guy has bad taste in boyfriends or really bad luck and ended up connected with a lunatic. Those things happen.

        1. The problem is the guy has bad taste in boyfriends or really bad luck and ended up connected with a lunatic. Those things happen.

          And him putting down his phone for a while doesn’t solve the problem.

          1. Short of murdering his ex, moving is about the only thing that would.

            1. Because the law isn’t made for promiscuous gays?

              1. Straight men can have the same problem thanks to the #MeToo movement. Regardless of sexual orientation, it’s a good idea to not hook up on the first date. Get to know a person’s mental stability first.

            2. Actually, the restraining order would, too. And that’s much less messy than murder. A little slower, though.

        2. As far as Grindr goes, i don’t see how they could do anything to prevent it.
          Require that people connect their real identity to profiles and actually prosecute fakers.

          1. Removing anonymity from the internet seems to have significant downsides as well. I feel like we can create a way to deal with this that isn’t a complete upending of anonymity.

            1. Sure, but “I don’t like this way” is very different from “I don’t see how”.

          2. It’s a gay sex app. There is NFW it lasts 10 minutes after requiring some sort of real verification of ID.

            1. Eh, it might ding the popularity, but other hook-up apps have survived “real ID”.

              The point being, it’s not that there’s no way to fix it, it’s just that people don’t like the ways to fix it.

          3. What authority does Grindr have to prosecute fakers? They can terminate the account for violation of the terms of service – and according to the article, they repeatedly did just that. They can’t throw the guy in jail, though. That’s a job for police and prosecutors, not something we let companies do unilaterally.

            What, precisely, should Grindr have done differently to dissuade the ex from creating fake identities?

            1. If you actually require a real identity to create an account, then someone making multiple accounts is necessarily committing fraud and breach of contract, no? But sure, swap out “prosecute” for “sue”.

              Also, “should” is different from “could”.

              1. Breach of contract? Yes. Fraud? Probably not, though it may depend on the exact wording of the state’s legal definition of “fraud”.

                Substituting “sue” for “prosecute” just gets you to the next problem. You can’t sue someone even for breach of contract unless you have been harmed. The legal concept is called “standing”. The concept is much more complex than it ought to be (so my simplification will be necessarily wrong) but a fundamental requirement is that you have to show evidence of tangible harm before you can bring your lawsuit. How is Grindr out any money because of the ex’s abuse? What direct harm have they suffered?

                Herrick, by the way, would easily pass the standing rule and could sue the ex for any number of things. And probably win easily. The cynic in me suspects that Herrick’s lawyers think Grindr’s pocket’s might be just a tad deeper than the ex’s.

                1. Damaging the service, consumption of resources and man-hours, damage to reputation.

                  That said, you’re kind of missing my point: if you have a system that actually requires and verifies people’s “real” identities, then it wouldn’t be possible to create a “fake profile” without committing fraud.

                  It’s not an impossible problem, or even a particularly difficult one. People just don’t like the solutions.

                  1. – “Damaging the service” how exactly?
                    – “Consumption of resources and man-hours” – yes but too indirect to establish standing in most cases.
                    – “Damage to reputation” – maybe but Grindr would actually have to show that their reputation was materially damaged. More likely, their repeated actions to try to support the victim (by canceling the fraudulent accounts as quickly as they were discovered) helped their reputation.

                    re: “fraud” – yes and no. Yes in the common definition of that word, not necessarily in the legal definition. Regardless based on the evidence above, the ex clearly did commit fraud (in the common sense) when creating the fake profiles. But the fraud was against Herrick, not Grindr.

          4. Yeah, that will kill a gay dating app immediately even inside the US.

        3. New Jersey’s Cyber-Harassment Law from the State Legislator’s Website:

          2C:33-4.1 Crime of cyber-harassment .

          1. a. A person commits the crime of cyber-harassment if, while making a communication in an online capacity via any electronic device or through a social networking site and with the purpose to harass another, the person:

          (1) threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or the property of any person;

          (2) knowingly sends, posts, comments, requests, suggests, or proposes any lewd, indecent, or obscene material to or about a person with the intent to emotionally harm a reasonable person or place a reasonable person in fear of physical or emotional harm to his person; or

          (3) threatens to commit any crime against the person or the person’s property.

          Section (2) applies in this case.

    2. It’s not that easy when you are limited to dating gay and bisexual men. Most areas don’t have the market to support a gay bar and most of the men you meet in real life won’t date other men. Grindr makes it possible to start a long term gay relationship or have a random hook up.

      Besides, identity theft over the phone is a classic revenge technique utilized by trashy people for decades. Even with old technology, anyone could call someone you know or live near and leave a voicemail pretending to be an angry version of you, or a horny version of you, or a version of you seeking employment. Would you expect someone to live the rest of his life avoiding human contact to avoid the harassment?

  5. I harassed my ex using the US Post Office, and ACME pen, and ACME paper. Can my ex sue the hell out of the US Post Office and ACME now?

    Oh, I get it, new tech is high tech is scary, run by KKKorporate ogres, and the old tech are tried and true, and we can only sue the ogres!

    I get it now!!!!

    1. Imagine if this guy were your friend and told you “SQRLSY, my crazy ex boyfriend is stalking me and harassing me on Grindr”. Wouldn’t your answer be “then stop using Grindr so he can’t do that”? Am I missing something here.

      1. The harassment was not dependent on his using Grindr. His ex- pretended to be him, and arranged to meet people at the plaintiff’s workplace and/or home.

        1. That sucks but I don’t think it is a crime and I don’t see how Grindr was supposed to stop it.

        2. His ex should be sued for identity theft, at the very very least. Grindr should be held blameless, they did the best they could. We are looking at “deep pockets” here…

      2. No, the answer would be “get a restraining order and/or go to the police about your crazy ex harassing you.”

        Note by the way that nothing in the article suggests that the victim was actually using Grindr. The harassment described in this article would be equally effective if your friend didn’t even know what Grindr was.

        1. The article notes he did go to the police. He filed 14 police reports, and got a restraining order.

          Sooner or later, when the police aren’t doing shit, you’re going to start going after the middle-man enabling it.

          1. Or, you go to town hall meetings to demand court reform. When the cops and courts don’t keep everyone safe, we’ve got one level of safety for people who can afford to initiate law suits and another level of safety for people who have to rely solely on the cops and courts.

    2. Did you manage to direct men seeking sex to your ex’s workplace on a daily basis?

      1. Actually I was bull-shitting here, I have a peaceful love life for decades now…

        My main point was new tech and old tech should be treated equally, ACME pen and ACME paper companies are not held liable for the “free speech” of others; why should Grindr?

        1. Hrm…

          The salient facts are that the ex in question was using a third-party service, presenting as Herrick, to get people to show up at Herrick’s home/work.

          So I don’t think the postal service is a good “old-timey” analogy, as they’re just the carrier. Similarly, “Acme” isn’t a good stand-in either. I think you need something else that would facilitate a connection between two strangers. Off the top of my head, that gives us magazine “reader write-in” sections and personal ads in newspapers.

          And in both of those, I think the editor in charge would be willing and able to stop publishing the fraudulent submissions from the ex, as it would be an actual human formatting profiles, putting in pictures, and so-on, and able to realize it was that one guy again trying to harass his ex.

          Do you have an alternate third-party service stand-in that makes sense where the third-party service would be unable or unwilling to catch the harassment and stop it?

          1. Editor of a paper rag isn’t a good analogy, because the price per word in a high-circulation paper rag is WAY high compared to the costs of bits and bytes. Paper rag can afford to scrutinize every word that goes on paper. Business model of fractions-of-a penny bits-and-bytes rag can’t do that. Holding bits-and-bytes folks to the higher standards of the old paper days isn’t fair to the bits-and-bytes folks.

            “Identity theft” and violations of court orders against harassment / stalking is the best fix here… What we have is going after whoever has the “deep pockets” (Grindr). We pay tax money to the cops and courts for this kind of crap; get them to do their jobs, not blame it on the nearest “deep pockets”.

            1. I’m not saying it’s a good analogy, I just think it’s better then your ACME one.

          2. Actually the editor in charge might be willing but would almost certainly be unable to stop publishing the fraudulent submissions because the editor has no more valid way to identify the human placing an ad than Grindr does.

            Unless you’re saying that the editor (and Grindr) should have put a preemptive block on anyone claiming to be Herrick even if that was Herrick himself. Kind of like putting a credit freeze on your Experian account. Sounds plausible until you look at the details. For one thing, Herrick is not as common as John Smith but it’s hardly unique. For another, even Experian can’t get that process right and they have your SSN to confirm that you’re you.

            1. There’s only so many times you can look at the same half-naked selfies before you recognize them.

              So no, I think a human in Grindr’s place would have easily identified and stopped the repeated fake accounts using the same photos.

              1. Why do you assume that he was using the same half-naked selfies? Why do you assume that the pictures bore any resemblance to Herrick at all?

                1. Because I actually read articles on this case, I didn’t need to assume anything.

            2. The same addresses and phone numbers were showing up in the posts every time – and those are text, reasonably easy to filter even with simple attempts at disguising them. How else would the harasser have tricked others into calling Herrick and showing up at his home and workplace? Grindr probably did not have filters available to detect this and block the posts when they started, but they went on for much longer than would have been required to program such filters.

              Even so, Grindr is in the last place as far as responsibility for this. The order is:

              1. The harasser himself.
              2. The police who could not be bothered to arrest the harasser for violating protective orders.
              3. Grindr.

              But most likely Herrick’s lawyers could take everything the harasser has and not even get enough to pay themselves. There is plenty of legal precedent for not holding the police responsible for doing their job. So Herrick’s lawyers are going after the deep pocket.

          3. For about $200 to $300 you can print and mail 1,000 post cards offering a free massage to the first 100 clients at “the best new message parlor in the state.” The advertisements can have the victim’s address and phone number. Online harassment is more common, because the price is lower. An email service that charges the sender $0.10 per email would not need advertisers and would allow the price to filter out pointless emails that waste time.

        2. I have a peaceful love life for decades now…

          Ain’t bein’ single great?

      2. Mailed them in a big ol’ ACME paper company box.

    3. SQRLSY is totally making sense, which is weird.

      Imagine how many threatening and harassing letters the U. S. government has facilitated through the Postal Service!

      1. … you mean the Postal Service that now checks all mail and packages for certain chemical traces often associated with bomb-making and chemical attacks? After that one time someone actually got ricin to legislators, they started checking everything.

        1. I suppose the Internet equivalent of that would be…I dunno, an internet virus that disables your heart’s pacemaker?

          1. If your pacemaker is internet-connected, you don’t deserve to live.

          2. Remember this case? I’m not sure Reason ever published a follow-up, but the judge ended up ruling it could constitute battery.

            So yeah, when we discover “real” threats, we deal with them. Often after-the-fact in a “closing the door after the horses have bolted” sort of way, but yes.

            So it really shouldn’t surprise folks when we end up clamping down on the internet. All we’re waiting for is something we consider to be “real” enough.

  6. “Online harassment is a serious problem, and one that defies easy solutions,

    Um, the solution is easy: just create and enforce a law that bans online harassment.

    Duh doy.

    1. Whatever you do, we can’t expect people to just turn their damn phones off.

      1. How would that help?

        1. If everyone in the entire universe turned off their cell phones, then cell phones could no longer be used to help people be nasty bitches to each other!

          Also, if we all threw our papers and pens and pencils in the trash, then papers and pens and pencils could no longer be used to help people be nasty bitches to each other!

          That’s why free speech is EVIL!!!

          1. Residents in my New Jersey county protested the construction of commuter rail over a century ago to avoid having to deal with those New York City residents. This happens with every new technology.

  7. Law enforcement has been loathe to treat any harassment that involves the internet as serious.

    This. The internet in general is something law enforcement is loathe to touch with a ten foot pole. Quickest way to make a cop get off the phone with you is mention that your criminal complaint has anything to do with the internet (even if it was just a meatspace transaction initiated through craigslist), even if everyone involved lives in your town they will try to foist you off with a “not our jurisdiction” faster than you can say “why am I paying taxes to these useless cops”.

    1. “The internet in general is something law enforcement is loathe to touch with a ten foot pole.”

      Yet I suspect that if some crook used the Internet to harass a cop, they’d find the time to investigate and prosecute the offender.

      1. Exception: Other cops harassing a cop who gave a speeding ticket to a fellow cop. That sort of harassment doesn’t need investigation.

      2. Yet I suspect that if some crook used the Internet to harass a cop, they’d find the time to investigate and prosecute the offender.

        Exactly this. In fact we have examples of this.

  8. I’ve had uninvited strangers knock on my door. I wonder if it was a similar scam. However even if so, I wouldn’t blame the internet company. I’d blame the person who perpetrated it.

  9. I guess I’m struggling with this one… harassment is harassment. Is this type of thing not covered under standard rules of case-and-desist/protection orders? If someone keeps calling me with harassing phone calls or hands out my phone number to strangers posing as someone else, we don’t sue the cell phone company, we get an anti-harassment order from the local constabulary.

    Where did the system break here?

    1. The ex was using a VPN to do it totally anonymously, so there was no way to catch him

      1. I understand that, but there was enough information to know that the EX was using a VPN hence its inclusion in the article, so if the Ex was using a burner phone (as a wild example) that would essentially be the same thing.

  10. Oh wait, Grindr… why doesn’t Herrick just claim his ex refused to bake him a cake.

    1. Must…avoid…tasteless joke about…secret ingredient…

      1. A tasteless ingredient? Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose? I guess unless you consider water an ingredient…

        1. From an actual Grindr profile I saw: “There will be icing on your cake by the time I’m done baking.”

  11. “banning the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) to access Grindr, or scanning phrases and photos sent through direct messages in order to screen them for matches to his image, address, etc.

    How does he think a VPN works, that Grindr can just magically tell that incoming traffic was ever routed through one?

    (And, yeah, they should totally filter DMs for matches to his image and address, because putting in an extra space in the town or street number or editing the image trivially [just reencoding!] would Totally Not Get Around That.

    Realistically, to even try to stop it, they’d have to do pretty serious AI work on every message and every image, to see if it was a Sneaky Attempt To Evade.

    Which is nontrivial and expensive.

    What he really needed is to get a restraining order filed and to sue for harassment, maybe?)

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