Like what you see? Click the heart at the bottom of the screen to “Like.” Not impressed? Hit the red “X.” According to Tinder, “It’s all anonymous until someone you like, likes you back.”
Launched by Hatch Labs, Inc. in September, Tinder has recently gained popularity on college campuses. The application is an addition to a recent dating trend — phone dating apps, today’s version of online dating websites.
“We came up with the idea for Tinder because we realized that it is difficult to meet new people around you and that social discovery was broken,” said Co-founder and CMO of Tinder Justin Mateen in an email. “There are so many ways to keep in touch with your existing network of friends, but there wasn’t an effective, socially acceptable way of meeting new people around you.”
After downloading Tinder from the app store, users sync it with Facebook. Then, Tinder creates a profile — age, up to four photos that a user can modify and a short status of his or her choice — that other users will see. Users then choose a radius between 10 and 50 miles and match preference based on sexual orientation.
Tinder uses this information to present its users with a slideshow of photos of local singles, along with shared friends and mutual interests. If one user likes another, he or she will wait to see if the other reciprocates his or her feelings. If so, Tinder notifies both users that it’s a “match,” prompting an option to start chatting.
However, anonymity is key. If another user doesn’t press “like” back, he or she will never know they were “liked” in the first place, and the user who pressed “like” won’t be notified either. Only those with mutual interest ever find out they liked each other, eliminating the fear of rejection commonplace on most dating apps and in real life.
By eliminating the chance of embarrassment, Tinder encourages its users to meet new people.
“Our goal was to help people discover and connect with people around them. What the user plans to do with the new relationship is completely up to them,” Mateen said. However, he added that six couples have gotten engaged within five months of meeting in person after knowing each other on the site.
College sophomore Daniel Rabinowitz deleted the app after a week, as he no longer found it fun.
“My friend wanted me to get it to see who would get more matches,” Rabinowitz said. “He lost.”
College sophomore Andrew Lay was skeptical of the app at first, but continues to use Tinder mainly for entertainment.
“It just seemed like an attempt to make online dating cool. But I eventually tried it out and grew to like it after realizing there were actually normal people on it,” he said. “I mainly do it for entertainment purposes, although I am not entirely opposed to meeting people off of it.”
College sophomore Jill Winter, who downloaded Tinder “on a whim,” likes the simple interface, but she wishes she could limit the options more.
“It would be better if you could limit it to your school, or friends of friends on Facebook,” she said.
“I use it mostly as a way to pass the time in my three hour lecture, but with the added bonus of possibly — but very, very improbably — forming connections. Who knows, maybe my future husband just liked my profile.”
While Winter is doubtful about forming a connection through Tinder, one Penn student credits an exclusive relationship to a different app — Grindr.
Launched in 2009, Grindr preceded Tinder by two years. The application uses location information to provide users with brief profiles of men in a close proximity.
College sophomore Carlos Ramirez downloaded the application during his freshman year to meet people who did not attend Penn.
“When I met someone on there who wanted more than just hookups, we came to the agreement that neither of us should be on it,” he said.
College freshman Josef Hoenzsch found out about Grindr through the gay community and downloaded it a month ago, after some hesitation. “For the most part, people use it for hookups, and I was looking for relationships,” he said. “Initially I made [a profile] as a joke … but I ended up making some friends through it.”