Many people have strong opinions about the location-based hookup apps, Tinder and Grindr. The apps (Tinder is geared towards heterosexuals while Grindr focuses on gay individuals) allow users to “swipe right” if they think someone is attractive and “swipe left” if they don’t. Hookups can be arranged in a matter of minutes. The sites are referred to as hookup apps instead of dating apps because the main goal of users is to find someone to hook up with as opposed to finding a meaningful, long-lasting relationship.
The apps have taken heat for their methods, but now they feel that some opponents have taken their disapproval too far.
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has recently launched an advertising campaign that links the popular apps with the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Billboards show a silhouette of a man’s faced labeled “Tinder” facing a silhouette of a woman’s face labeled “chlamydia.” Similarly, another ad features two images of men facing each other, one labeled “Grindr” and the other labeled “gonorrhea.”
The health group defended its tactics, and senior director, Whitney Engeran-Cordova, stated that, “Mobile ‘dating’ apps are rapidly altering the sexual landscape by making casual sex as easily available as ordering a pizza. In many ways, location-based mobile dating apps are becoming a digital bath house for millennials wherein the next sexual encounter can literally just be a few feet away - as well as the next STD.”
Reaction to the ads was swift.
In less than 24 hours, Tinder’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to the foundation claiming that the ads falsely and wrongly associate the app with the spread of sexually transmitted disease. A lawyer for Tinder wrote that, “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.”
The organization indicated it will not remove them and it responded to Tinder’s letter stating that it did not disparage the company. Michael Weinstein, the foundation’s president pointed out that, “It’s logical, if you can be hooked up with someone in an urban area within minutes, of course you’re going to have more STDs.”
The ads are currently displayed in Los Angeles and the foundation plans on displaying them in New York City, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.