Privacy Unraveling Around Explicit HIV Status Disclosure Fields in the Online Geosocial Hookup App Grindr

Mark Warner, A Gutmann, MA Sasse, Ann Blandford
in The 21st ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing, Conference paper (text), Jersey City, US


mHealth applications ("apps") must be searched for and downloaded prior to use, creating a potential barrier to uptake. Integrating health interventions into existing online social environments removes this barrier. However, little is known about the effects of linking sensitive health information to existing online identities. Our qualitative analysis of online comments (n=192) explores the user views of an HIV intervention integrated into the geosocial hookup app Grindr. We find some HIV positive users report keeping their status private to reduce their stigma exposure, whilst others report publicly disclosing their status to avoid being stigmatised by others. Where users keep their status private, we find concerns that social assumptions may develop around these non-disclosures, creating a privacy unraveling effect which restricts disclosure choice. Using Peppet's four proposed limits to privacy unraveling, we develop a set of descriptive conceptual designs to explore the privacy respecting potential of these limits within this context and propose further research to address this privacy challenge.