Rules are the tacky glue that holds the popsicle stick planks of any functional society, or elementary school engineering project, together. I’m sure Hobbes or Hegel once said that. Probably, we need laws to keep back the forceful waves of universal chaos. Or at least Tinder thinks so.
The dating app is instituting new community guidelines, starting today that bar and restrict behaviors previously allowed (and in some cases ran rampant) on the platform. Social media handles, business promos, sex work, couples profiles, and posting private chats in public forums are all officially against the rules, according to Tinder’s newly updated principles.
If you do post a social handle or a link in your bio, Tinder will remove it. Instead of poly couples posting together, Tinder says you need separate bios and encourages users to use the “relationship types” profile feature to indicate their preferences. Users can’t post private messages or images from others in their profile or elsewhere (without consent). There’s no fundraising, campaigning, or “compensated relationships” allowed. “Don’t use Tinder to find your sugarmamma,” the new rules quip.
To aid enforcement, the company encourages users to report accounts engaging in any of the above, unbecoming activity. From there, Tinder can issue warnings or opt to remove an account based on the severity of any violation. “We reserve the right to investigate and/or terminate accounts without a refund of any purchases if we find you have misused the Service or behaved in a way Tinder deems inappropriate, unlawful, or in violation of our Community Guidelines,” the app notes in its policy.
“The updated Community Guidelines come as part of Tinder’s continuous efforts to make the app a fun and safe place to meet new people,” the company wrote in a press release about the changes. Through re-focusing the hook-up app away from unintended uses like gaining Instagram followers, promoting an Only Fans account, or finding a third for your stale relationship—Tinder is seemingly trying to become a virtual place for real human connection.
Since the app came on the scene in 2012, Tinder has gone through the cycle of defining modern dating and come out the other side as kind of a well-worn joke. Amid the sea of other digital dating and hook-up tools like the more curated Hinge, heteronormative Bumble, straightforward Grindr grid, and profile-intensive OkCupid, etc... Tinder seems to have fallen into a cultural niche that concisely amounts to “a messy app for people not looking for anything too serious.” But the company is trying to challenge that assumption and shift public perception—also it says it wants to help the youth.
“The majority of Tinder’s members are 18-25, and Tinder is often their first dating experience. To guide these younger daters as they start their dating journey, Tinder is using this policy refresh to remind and educate members about healthy dating habits — both online and in real life,” said Ehren Schlue, a company exec, in the pre-prepared statement.
Couple posts (i.e. unicorn hunters) are a notorious scourge of women seeking women on the platform. Financial scams are abound on the app. Minor influencers looking to climb the social media ranks are liable to appear at every swipe. Many a Tinder weirdo have been exposed in viral online posts. So, on paper, all of the new rules seem like decent and welcome adjustments. But it’s also a little bit sad to imagine one of original wild wests of dating apps reined in.
Tinder has never been a beacon of “healthy dating habits.” Sure, people may make long-term connections there (full disclosure: this author included). But those have always seemed like more of an accidental miracle than the norm. Tinder says that about 40% of its users are seeking a long term relationship. But how does that mesh with the 60% that are there for something else? What about those for whom the app is the destination, not part of a journey? What app-based harbor will offer refuge to those seeking a good time (or a place to hype their travel Insta/Soundcloud mixtape), and not a long time?