How far are dating companies willing to go to protect their userbase?
Bumble made headlines recently when they announced they were banning any imagery of guns on their platform. According to them, this wasn’t an attack at gun owners or activists, but more of a way to protect its base. In fact, they encouraged gun enthusiasts to post about their hobby in their bio, rather than include any photos.
In a question and answer page that Bumble included on their website, they mentioned that they aren’t worried about losing any users with this move. In their words:
We will always put our values above our bottom line.
Tinder also made headlines when it was announced that they had removed George Zimmerman entirely from their platform (something Bumble had already done months earlier.)
In both these instances, two of the largest dating applications decided to censor either an individual or an ideology from their platform. Although they have every right as a company to make these moves, this still begs the question: Where do we draw the line from removing harmful content to censoring members from being able to freely express themselves?
To answer this question, we first need dive in to the market of online dating companies.
Women Control The Online Dating Market
It’s no surprise that women are in control of the online dating market. Even though there are close to 10% more men on these apps, dating companies know that men will come to their just as long as there’s a decent amount of women for them to court.
Because of this, dating sites tend to lean towards values that their main demographics have. We know that single women tend to vote more liberally, And dating apps will then be more prone to sponsoring beliefs that align with that. That’s why it’s easy for these companies to decide on censoring information that might alienate part of the userbase because they know it’s the part that doesn’t matter as much.
It’s Not About Their Values, It’s About the Cash Flow
If the demographic that drove online dating supported gun rights, Bumble wouldn’t ever consider banning gun imagery from profiles. The fact of the matter is they only did this because it fits the agenda of their most important user base. So when they talk about values, we need to be real – they don’t care about value, they care about protecting their cash flow.
You could be the next banned from Tinder or Bumble
Chances are, you’re probably not a smuck like George Zimmerman, but getting banned from these datings apps is far easier than you think. Just doing a Google search on the Tinder 40303 error (the error that means you’re banned for life) and you’ll see hundreds of results and videos involving people who had their accounts removed.
Of course, a portion of these people deserved to be banned. But, there’s a subset of people who were banned for far more innocent reasons. In one case, a member had reported a user who was lying about the gender, and they were the one who got banned. When they tried to appeal their ban, Tinder told them they were removed for hate speech. How does that make sense?
As technology continues to advance, and we see more of a rise in the popularity of online dating, it becomes even more important to demand transparency from companies. Yes, they have every right to remove people who are causing a severe disturbance to other members, but we need to make sure they are being fair and just as they do so.