August 2015 hasn't been kind to Tinder.
Vanity Fair journalist Nancy Jo Sales wrote a feature called “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse”, in which she blames the app (and online dating in general) for swiping romance off the screen and disrupting the dating lives of modern twentysomethings.
Rather than quietly moving on, Tinder took a stand. Or, to put it more accurately, Tinder decided to go on an epic Twitter rant against Nancy Jo Sales. The Twitter tear ended up in everybody's headlines, putting the app under even greater scrutiny than the original article.
In the wake of the messy meltdown, many seem to be rethinking their approach to online dating. And interestingly, a Tinder co-founder may be behind one of the best alternatives.
Last year, Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe sued the company for sexual harassment and was pushed out of the business. Following the kerfuffle, Wolfe founded Bumble – a free, feminist dating app where women call the shots.
The familiar swipe feature is still in play, and both users receive a notification if a match is made, but only women are allowed to make the first move. So far, the app has been successful. The male-female ratio is about 50-50 and more than 500,000 users have joined. The average user spends more than an hour on Bumble per day.
This month, Bumble plans to launch a new feature to help users separate the frogs from the princes. Changes to the algorithm will measure how users behave on the app. Those with “good” behavior will be rewarded with a verified status dubbed “VIBee.” The hope is that VIBee status will act as a filter, much the way age might, helping users to weed out flakes, trolls, and anyone else with generally jerky tendencies.
Unlike some apps that screen for external markers of social status, like graduating from an Ivy League university, VIBee status is about how users conduct themselves. “Our pre-vetting is about how you behave in the app,” Wolfe told TIME. “If you didn’t graduate from Harvard you can still earn your way in.”
“We want to reward those users who have been good members of the community,” she continued. “It’s about rewarding, not excluding.”
Users who respond to messages and swipe judiciously are eligible to earn VIBee status. Those who always swipe right or never swipe right at all will be screened out, as well as anyone who has been reported for harassment. Users with VIBee status will be able to search only for other VIBee-status users.
Tinder is unlikely to disappear from the scene any time soon, but for those who are questioning the world it creates, Bumble could offer a brighter future. For more on the Tinder dating app, please read our review.