This story was updated on Jan. 8, 2019.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A man who says his ex used a popular dating app to get revenge had his day in court Monday, taking Grindr to task for his being stalked and harassed by a thousand strangers.
Matthew Herrick says for months he couldn’t go to the restaurant where he waited tables or his home without men he didn’t know approaching him for sex or drugs.
Attorneys Carrie Goldberg and Tor Ekeland are representing the Manhattan resident in a nearly two year lawsuit against Grindr, the gay dating app, reports CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.
“This was a life or death matter,” said Goldberg. “They would follow him into the bathroom at work, they wouldn’t take no for an answer.”
“At one point, within four minutes, six people came up to him,” said Ekeland.
Herrick says his ex created impersonating profiles of him on the app and arranged sex dates with more than 1,400 men.
The actor didn’t want to speak publicly on Monday, but said he blames Grindr for the problem.
“All they ever did was send back an auto reply, ‘Thank you for your complaint,’” said Ekeland.
In court papers, Herricks says he filed 50 complaints with Grindr and the company never did anything. The lawsuit calls on the social dating app to implement technology that would stop this kind of harassment
Herrick’s lawyers say Grindr claims it couldn’t stop the impersonation profiles or the location tracking. Grindr would not comment directly on the case, but issued the following statement on Tuesday:
Grindr is committed to creating a safe and secure environment to help our community connect and thrive, and any fraudulent account is a clear violation of our terms of service. Grindr does not condone illegal or improper behavior, and we take this issue seriously. We encourage users to report any violations or inappropriate activity either through our in-app reporting tools or by submitting a support request to email@example.com. These reports are reviewed by our moderators and customer support agents who remove offending profiles as appropriate.
The case was dismissed by a federal court in 2017, based on a law from 1996.
“The argument here though is many websites do have this ability to protect their users,” said CNET cyber security reporter Alfred Ng. “Facebook, if somebody’s bothering you there, has an impersonating profile of you, pretending to me or you, they can take that down. That happens on Twitter daily, that happens on Youtube regularly.”
He says it’s hard to sue tech companies because of a 1996 law that makes internet services immune from what users are doing on their website.
“We need to think very carefully about what’s going on when we’re being tracked by our phones every second of the day,” said Ekeland.
Lawyers say the laws need to be revised for everyone’s safety.