The way we date, find sexual partners and generally seek out romance has changed drastically, even in just the last 5 years. With the proliferation of apps like Tinder and Grindr, romance is only a few swipes away. Love at first swipe, so to speak.
With the impression of having thousands of potential mates at your fingertips, apps like Tinder operate under the pretense of providing meaningful connections with complete strangers. While the company may tout its incredible ability to connect strangers (whether meaningfully or not), meaningful connections more often than not take a back seat to the hunt for the casual lay (morning brunch optional).
But with nearly-anonymous sex, there comes a risk. And apparently that risk, or even reminding young people (51 percent of Tinder users are ages 18-24) of that risk, scares the pants off the dudes and dudettes that run Tinder. Especially if you take into consideration the Twitter rant, nay meltdown (31 consecutive tweets), the company spewed to its followers following a Vanity Fair article that blasted Tinder for bringing about the “dating apocalypse.”
Now, the dating app has set its sights on a recent billboard campaign launched in Los Angeles by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), The Guardian reported Tuesday, Sept. 29. The billboards depict two silhouettes with Tinder over one and the word chlamydia over the next. The billboards are varied, with some depicting the app Grindr alongside a host of different STD options. The campaign’s message is simple, and admirable, really. AHF wants to encourage users of dating apps like Tinder to go get tested for STDs. Seems simple enough, especially considering the level of anonymity these apps provide.
Tinder disagrees. Surprise, surprise. The app sent a cease and desist letter to AHF in regards to the billboards. Here’s the gist of that letter: “These unprovoked and wholly unsubstantiated accusations are made to irreparably damage Tinder’s reputation in an attempt to encourage others to take an HIV test offered by your organization. While Tinder strongly supports such testing, the Billboard’s statements are not founded upon any scientific evidence, and are incapable of withstanding critical analysis.”
Well Tinder, let’s break it down. You have developed and popularized an app that is designed to bring people together, often times sexually. When that service becomes mainstream, the number of people using it simply for casual sex increases naturally, which leaves people vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases, especially if safe sex practices aren’t being employed. That’s not making disparaging comments, that’s being realistic.
But fear not, the good people at the AHF, you know, the medical professionals that help treat people with AIDS, that disease that’ll kill you if you don’t wrap it up with the wrong person, didn’t back down. In fact, they denied Tinder’s request to cease and desist on the billboard campaign.
AHF President Michael Weinstein put it bluntly. “There are consequences to hooking up,” he told the Guardian. “That’s not a moralistic judgement. It’s just a fact and minimizing that is important.”