Where has Tinder Social gone?

As we cover Tinder a fair bit at TechJunkie, we also receive quite a few questions about the dating app. One that has come up a few times is, “What is Tinder Social and why can’t I use it?” Normally we’re explaining how to use features, like common connections or Tinder gold. In this case, though, you’re out of luck–or maybe you’re luckier than you think. The answer is actually quite interesting.

Tinder Social was introduced in April 2016. While Tinder is a dating app, they realized people might meet through the app and want to spend more time together, even if they didn’t hit it off romantically. The idea was to provide a way  for multiple Tinder users to get together in a platonic way to socialize, go on group outings, or participate in group events. Adding a social dynamic to the app would help include more than just daters or those wanting to hook up.

Tinder Social was a great theory but not so great in practice–the perfect example of people sitting around a table in Silicon Valley thinking they are changing the world and getting it completely wrong.

Tinder Social

Tinder Social was given a trial run in Australia before Tinder would launch it across the globe. Tinder users were given the trial, which allowed them to create a group of friends within the app. The idea was that you could chat, interact, and plan events with people from Tinder. All nice and friendly and mostly platonic. It seemed with this feature that Tinder wanted to expand from pure dating into a mini social network.

The reality wasn’t quite so idyllic.

Firstly, here was no option to ignore or opt-out of Tinder Social. That should have struck everyone as a big red flag. If you were an Australian Tinder user within the selected user base, you were on Tinder Social and that was that. On the surface that wasn’t an issue–you didn’t have to use it after all. Instead, it brought up a larger issue.

To create a group in Tinder Social, you would be presented with a list of all your Facebook friends. So far, so good right? Until you realize that the only Facebook friends Tinder Social listed were other users of Tinder. Essentially, the feature outed every person you know on Facebook who used Tinder, secretly or otherwise.

Outed on Tinder

Tinder has always required a Facebook account to use. The app would take images from the Facebook network to feature on your profile. What it did not do was post or otherwise advertise the fact that you used Tinder to the rest of Facebook. You could be reasonably confident that even though the two apps were linked, Tinder would never advertise the fact you use it.

Until Tinder Social came along. Suddenly you knew exactly which of your Facebook friends used the app. You could even look at their Tinder profiles without having to match them first. This had obvious consequences. Friends could look at your Tinder profile and have a good laugh. They could see your images and use them for their own amusement–or worse, and all of a sudden, your secret Tinder life was made public.

If you were single and open about your Tinder use, this wasn’t so terrible. But there’s always someone you don’t want to share the details of your dating life with. And what if you part of a religious group, or a conservative family, or some other group who frown on this kind of dating? What if you were married or attached? What if you were looking for someone of the same sex while keeping it a secret? Part of the appeal of Tinder was being able to look for partners without sharing this sort of thing with your wider social network–until, with Tinder Social, Tinder tried to be your large social network, too.

Needless to say this didn’t go down well at all. Users quickly took to social media to complain. Lots of Australian users canceled their Tinder account. Presumably quite a few relationships were ended too, both friends and otherwise.

Tinder’s response was less than ideal too. They even suggested your Tinder use shouldn’t be private by saying that 70% of its users arrived from recommendations anyway. Not a great way to endear yourself to your user base.

They finally ended the Tinder Social experiment by saying:

“We discontinued Tinder Social in its initial format. While the feature gained modest adoption with no real marketing effort, it became apparent that the feature as devised didn’t fit cleanly with our future direction, which will be focused heavily on video, location and AI-driven features. We do believe, however, that these features will ultimately lead to a broader social experience on Tinder, which was the original intent of Tinder Social.”

Conveniently neglecting to mention any privacy nightmares at all.

A User Experience of Tinder Social

In the brief time Tinder Social was being tested in Australia, some users tried it out. It didn’t always go well. This post on The Federalist explains in perfect clarity just what could go wrong when you set up a group date using Tinder Social. Read it until the end–it is worth it for the laughs alone.

If you are looking for Tinder Social I’m afraid you’re out of luck. It has gone, never to return. After reading this, you’re probably glad you escaped it. I know I am!

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