Matthew Herrick, a restaurant worker and aspiring actor in New York, claimed that for months an ex-boyfriend used the dating app Grindr to harass him.
His former partner created fake profiles on the app to impersonate Herrick and then direct men to show up at Herrick’s home and the restaurant where he worked asking for sex, sometimes more than a dozen times per day. Herrick took action against his ex, filing 14 police reports. The alleged harassment continued for months, even after Herrick obtained a temporary restraining order against Grindr that required the company to disable the impersonating profiles.
Herrick is pursuing an unusual legal theory as he continues to push back against Grindr, arguing that tech companies should face greater accountability for what happens on their platforms, NBC News reported. His lawsuit alleges that the software developers who write code for Grindr have been negligent, producing an app that’s defective in its design and that is “fundamentally unsafe” and “unreasonably dangerous” — echoing language that’s more typically used in lawsuits about, say, a faulty kitchen appliance or a defective car part.
If successful, the lawsuit could bring about a significant legal change to the risks tech companies face for what happens on their platforms, adding to growing public and political pressure for change.