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Tinder is a location-based social search service application (using Facebook) that facilitates communication between mutually interested users, allowing matched users to chat. The app is commonly used as a dating services app, and has branched out to provide more services, making it more of a general social media application.
Originally incubated inside Hatch Labs, the app was launched in 2012, and by 2014 it was registering about one billion “swipes” per day. Tinder is among the first “swiping apps”, where the user uses a swiping motion to choose between the photos of other users: swiping right for potentially good matches and swiping left on a photo to move to the next one.
Tinder was founded by Sean Rad, Jonathan Badeen, Justin Mateen, Joe Munoz, Dinesh Moorjani, Chris Gylczynski, and Whitney Wolfe, who later left Tinder to start Bumble. Other sources state that list of founders is restricted to Mateen, Rad, and Badeen, though this has been disputed. Rad and Mateen had known each other since they were fourteen. They later attended USC together and entered the Internet entrepreneurship field. Rad has stated that the impetus for the app was his observation that “no matter who you are, you feel more comfortable approaching somebody if you know they want you to approach them.” He believed that a “double opt-in” system could be created to potentially alleviate that stress. Rad has also stated that Tinder filled a gap for social sites for meeting strangers, rather than connecting with people a user already knows.
Tinder was then seeded at numerous college campuses, and expanded to other college campuses. The app won TechCrunch’s Crunchie Award for “Best New Startup of 2013”. In March 2013, when the app was still used only in certain localities, social media director Alexa Mateen stated that the app was intended to be a “chance to meet people you wouldn’t normally meet”. By May 2013, Tinder was one of the top 25 social networking apps available on the web based on frequency of use and number of users. Initially, instead of a swiping motion, users would click on either a green “heart” or red “oXo” to select or move on from the photos shown. Tinder became the first new online dating service to become one of the top five utilized services on the web in about ten years.
As of October 2014, the app was processing over one billion swipes per day, producing about twelve million matches per day. The average user would generally spend about an hour and a half on the app each day. After transitioning from the clicking function Tinder initially used, Tinder became the first “swipe app”, now a term to describe various apps that use swiping left or right to control what content the user sees in a browsing fashion. The functionality of the swipe is now in use by multiple other companies and software. In 2015, Tinder introduced the ability to go back to rejected profiles, “rewinding” if the user feels they made a mistake—something previously not possible on the app.
Companion apps were being developed by different companies allowing users to, for example, use the user’s heart rate to determine which direction to swipe instead of the user swiping with their hands. The main companion site for Tinder has been Facebook, as Tinder users connect their Facebook profile to their Tinder accounts for verification and profile details. Chatting on Tinder is only available between two users that have swiped right on one another’s photos. The selections a user makes are not known to other users, unless two individuals swipe right on each other’s profiles. However, once you have matches on the app, you were able to send “Tinder Moments” to each of a user’s matches at once, allowing each match to like or not like the photos. The site also has verified profiles for public figures, so that celebrities and other public figures can verify they are who they are when using the app.
On October 1, 2015, Tinder released a new feature called Super Like globally. Instead of indicating anonymously you are interested in someone by swiping right, you can now Super Like them which notifies them that you are interested in them. Tinder says that with the use of Super Like, users are three times as likely to find a match.
As of November 11, 2015, Tinder’s “Moments” feature retired.
Using Facebook, Tinder is able to build a user profile with photos that have already been uploaded. Basic information is gathered and the users’ social graph is analyzed. Candidates who are most likely to be compatible based on geographical location, number of mutual friends, and common interests are then streamed into a list of matches. Based on the results of potential candidates, the app allows the user to anonymously like another user by swiping right or pass by swiping left on them. If two users like each other it then results in a “match” and they are able to chat within the app. The app is used in about 196 countries.
In March 2015, Tinder announced the public release of its paid service, Tinder Plus, a feature allowing unlimited matches, whereas the free Tinder app limits the number of right swipes in a 12 hour period. It has met with controversy over limiting the number of “likes” a free user can give in a certain amount of time, as well as charging prices for different age groups. The price of a Tinder Plus subscription was announced to be £14.99/$19.99 USD per month for users over 28, while the same service for a user 28 and under will be £3.99/$9.99 USD per month. A month after implementing these changes, TechCrunch reported that, no matter the consumer impression, Tinder’s ‘Swipe Right Limit Is Working.’
Tinder is used widely throughout the world and is available in about 30 languages. As of late 2014, an estimated 50 million people use the app every month with an average of 12 million matches per day. However, to get to those 12 million matches, users collectively make around 1 billion swipes per day. The minimum age to sign up and use Tinder is 18. As of June 2016, If a user of Tinder who is below the age of 18 attempts to use the app, they are met with cards on their deck stating that Tinder is no longer usable by anyone under 18, and that the Tinder team is developing a new app especially for their age group. As of April 2015, Tinder users swipe through 1.6 billion Tinder profiles and make more than 26 million matches per day. More than 8 billion matches have been made since Tinder launched in 2012.
In March 2014, Media & Internet conglomerate IAC increased its majority stake in Tinder, a move that caused speculation that the valuation of Tinder was at several billion dollars. In July 2015, Bank of America Merrill Lynch valued Tinder at $1.35 billion, based upon an estimate of $27 per user on an estimated user base of 50 million, with an additional bullish-estimate of $3 billion by taking the average of the IPOs of similar companies. Analysts also estimated that Tinder had about half a million paid users within its userbase that consisted mostly of free users. The monetization of the site has come through leaving the basic app free, and then adding different in-app purchase options for additional functions. In January 2015 Tinder acquired Chill, the developers of Tappy—a mobile messenger that uses “images and ephemerality”.
An ad campaign launched by “The Barn” internship program of Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH) used Tinder profiles to promote their NYC Puppy Rescue Project. Using Facebook pet profiles, BBH was able to add them to the Tinder network. The campaign received media cover from Slate (magazine), Inc. (magazine), Huffington Post and more. In April 2015, Tinder revealed their first sponsored ad promoting Budweiser’s next #Whatever, USA campaign.
The New York Times wrote that the wide use of Tinder could be attributed not to what Tinder was doing right but to flaws in the models of earlier dating software, which relied on mathematical algorithms to select potential partners. Relationship experts interviewed by the newspaper stated that users used the photographs that come in succession on the app to derive cues as to social status, confidence levels, and personal interests. Marie Claire wrote that the app was “easy to use on the run” and “addictive” but that “…it’s hard to focus. The game-style of Tinder means it’s really easy to keep playing and forget about that hottie you were messaging yesterday.
In February 2014, security researchers in New York found a flaw which made it possible to find users’ precise locations for between 40 and 165 days, without any public notice from the company. Tinder’s spokesperson, Rosette Pambakian, said the issue was resolved within 48 hours. Chief Executive Officer Rad said in a statement that shortly after being contacted, Tinder implemented specific measures to enhance location security and further obscure location data.
On June 30, 2014, Tinder’s co-founder and former vice president of marketing, Whitney Wolfe, filed a sexual harassment and sex discrimination suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against IAC-controlled Match Group, parent company of the app. The lawsuit alleged that her fellow executives and co-founders Rad and Mateen had engaged in discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation against her, while Tinder’s corporate supervisor, IAC’s Sam Yagan, did nothing. IAC suspended CMO Mateen from his position pending an ongoing investigation, and stated that it “acknowledges that Mateen sent private messages containing ‘inappropriate content,’ but it believes Mateen, Rad and the company are innocent of the allegations”.
There have been Anti-Tinder online marketing campaigns and websites developed. As of June 2015, 68% of Tinder users were male and 32% were female. According to University of Texas-Austin Professor David Buss, “One dimension of [dating apps like Tinder] is the impact it has on men’s psychology. When there is … a perceived surplus of women, the whole mating system tends to shift towards short-term dating.” where there is a feeling of disconnect when choosing future partners. CEO Sean Rad has said that Tinder removes the “friction” associated with walking up to someone and introducing themselves. Nancy Jo Sales wrote in Vanity Fair that Tinder operates within a culture of users seeking sex without relationships.
Health officials from Rhode Island and Utah claimed, that Tinder and similar apps are responsible for uptick of some STDs.
On February 5, 2016, members of the Facebook group “Bernie Sanders Dank Tinder Convos” (BSDTC) (a spin-off of Bernie Sanders’ Dank Meme Stash) were reportedly being banned from Tinder for promoting American politician Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. BSDTC members would send messages to other Tinder users promoting Sanders and imploring them to vote for him. In response, many BSDTC members’ profiles would either become locked or deleted due to flagging their messages as spam or their profiles as bots. Tinder spokeswoman Rosette Pambakian stated in an email, “We whole-heartedly support people sharing their political views on Tinder, but we don’t allow spamming. So feel free to feel the Bern, just don’t spam.”
In March 2016, a website called Swipebuster was launched, which allows anyone to see how recently someone else logged on to Tinder, at a cost of $4.99 for every three searches. Vanity Fair was the first to report on the service, in an article titled “Here’s How You Can Check if Your Partner Is Cheating on Tinder,” and Swipebuster subsequently received extensive media coverage for being the first searchable database of Tinder users. The Guardian explained how Swipebuster works: “[I]t doesn’t [identify users] by hacking into Tinder, or even by ‘scraping’ the app manually. Instead, it searches the database using Tinder’s official API, which is intended for use by third-party developers who want to write software that plugs in with the site. All the information that it can reveal is considered public by the company, and revealed through the API with few safeguards.”
On August 2016, two engineers found out another flaw which showed the exact location of all user’s matches. The location was updated every time a user logged into the app and it worked even for blocked matches. The issue was detected on March 2016, but it was not fixed until August 2016.
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