Tinder and Bumble Have Become Political Campaign Tools

  • Monday, March 23 2020 @ 10:02 am
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Tinder and Bumble Have Become Political Campaign Tools

It’s the 2020 election season, and political campaigns are competing for young voters – and turning to dating apps Tinder and Bumble for help.

Young campaign volunteers are using dating apps to chat with their matches and advertise for their candidates over dating apps, according to International Business Times. Some are even springing for premium versions of Tinder so they can change location and engage voters in other states. Still other app users are advocating for more political engagement, including announcing in their profiles that they only date registered voters.

A study came out last month from the journal The Information Society, which found an increased use of dating apps for purposes other than dating – namely for marketing initiatives and political campaigns. While people are still exchanging flirtatious messages and asking each other on dates, they are also engaging in intimate conversations about their political views and are more receptive to hearing about a new product from someone who romantically interests them.

For example, before the Iowa caucus, a 28 year-old volunteer for Elizabeth Warren’s campaign thought she’d try using a dating app to reach more voters while she and her friend were on the road. According to The International Business Times, they were looking at profiles on Bumble, and thought of all the potential voters they were swiping past. The volunteer then promoted her allegiance to Warren in her profile, hoping for response. She said that most of the men who contacted her were “polite and receptive,” and the move provided an overall boost to the campaign effort.

This isn’t the first time volunteers and political staffers are looking to engage people on dating apps. Back in 2016, it helped Bernie Sander’s campaign when two women used their profiles to promote his candidacy, attracting media attention.

The dating apps’ policies are a little murky when it comes to political promotion among users. While the companies are supportive overall, if campaigns started using bots to create fake profiles to engage with real users, or if they spammed users, it could become a problem. There is also a concern that campaigns could scoop up sensitive personal data for their own benefit, such as a user’s location, political affiliation, and even what they like to do on the weekends.

Tinder stated that its service encourages “meeting new people and engaging in conversations with people from all walks of life... these conversations often involve political policies, specific candidates, causes and more. We encourage this as long as they remain respectful, human and free from spam." 

Bumble also chimed in, supporting users for engaging in political discourse with this statement: "Our users are more than welcome to discuss topics that are important to them... (but) if users copy and paste the exact same message to several matches, they're likely to be banned for spam-like behavior."