A Manhattan actor is taking the gay hookup app Grindr to court, following the sudden appearance of hundreds of gay men at his West Harlem home, all of whom were looking for sex, based on an alleged “spoofed” profile.
Matthew Herrick, 32, says someone, possibly a spurned ex-boyfriend, created a false Grindr profile of him, using photos lifted from Herrick’s Instagram page, last October. Soon after the faux account appeared, Herick says, men began turning up at his brownstone in droves. “My entire life has been stolen from me. My privacy has been taken from me. I’m humiliated daily,” a tearful Herrick says. “It’s a living hell.”
Grindr is a popular gay dating app which uses geolocation to let users know the proximity of other subscribers, by pinging their phones. The phony account, which Herrick says featured a shirtless picture of him, generated nonstop traffic to his house “at all hours, day and night,” for months, despite repeated attempts to alert Grindr to the problem. “I reached out to Grindr over 50 times, but nothing was done,” Herrick says.
As the number of unwanted visitors ran into the hundreds, Herrick laments, he was bombarded with phone calls, and the false profiles of him began multiplying. Some would-be suitors even became violent when rebuffed, prompting Herrick to seek legal remedies. He’s filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court, charging negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false advertising, and deceptive business practices.
Herrick was able to get a judge to order Grindr to stop the fake profiles, Herrick says unwanted guests are still regularly showing up. “The nightmare didn’t stop,” he opined. A disgruntled ex-boyfriend, who was not identified, because he not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, is said to be the source of the offending profiles.
The ex reportedly even went so far as to post that Herrick “really means yes when he says no”, making those who try to engage Herrick “even more aggressive”. Herrick’s lawyer, Carrie Goldberg, says “They were setting him up to be sexually assaulted, it’s just luck that it hasn’t happened yet.” Goldberg, who specializes in “revenge porn” cases, says Herrick’s allegations against Grindr have been confirmed by her office. “Any attack on my client’s credibility, is countered by the voluminous evidence I’ve seen,” the counselor stated.
Although other legal experts say Internet companies aren’t legally responsible for the actions of their apps’ users, Herrick is charging product liability in his lawsuit. The complaint says “Grindr affirmatively availed itself as a weapon to destroy [Herrick’s] life.” Herrick says he’s also reported his ex-boyfriend’s alleged activities to the NYPD, and local cops have occasionally patrolled his block in response. They’ve also suggested Herrick relocate, but he rebukes that idea, asking instead, “why won’t Grindr just do its job?”
Grindr declined comment on this story, citing pending legal action.