A New York gay man says his life was put in jeopardy after an ex-boyfriend allegedly created fake Grindr accounts in his name and sent men to his home and work searching for sex. Now, Matthew Herrick is suing the smartphone app after he says its employees refused to take action after being contacted by him at least 50 times. In the interim, a judge has forced Grindr to delete all the fake profiles, but Herrick says the abuse continues.
Herrick describes a nightmare scenario to Wired; men would come to his apartment and workplace at all hours, believing that Herrick had invited them there for sex. Herrick claims in his civil complaint against Grindr that his ex manipulated the app to make it appear the messages were coming from Herrick’s apartment or the restaurant he’s employed at; photos from Herrick’s Instagram were stolen to create the phony profiles. Herrick says his former partner created numerous profiles in his image, sending hundreds of men to his residence and work.
The man behind the fake profiles allegedly sent increasingly disturbing messages to Grindr users, even telling some that Herrick had “rape fantasies” and that if he said no he really meant yes. Herrick said many men were angry when they were turned away and a fight even broke out between one Grindr user and Herrick’s roommate. It's not clear what actions Herrick plans to take against his former partner.
In his suit, Herrick is suing Grindr for not taking action to stop the profiles. Herrick told Wired that Scruff quickly took action when someone, ostensibly the ex, tried to create fake profiles on that app. Scruff quickly banned the fake accounts and stopped the user’s IP address from creating any new ones.
Regardless, legal experts tell Wired that Grindr will likely not be responsible for the harassment Herrick has suffered — the widely-referenced Communications Decency Act of 1996 claims internet services aren’t liable for content posted by their users.