Tinder & Hinge Sued For Predatory Design That ‘Turns Users Into Gamblers’

No, it's not just you.

Tinder & Hinge Sued For Predatory Design That ‘Turns Users Into Gamblers’

Image: DMARGE/Evening Standard

At DMARGE, we take relationships seriously and have been helping blokes with a whole host of dating issues for years — from sitting down the Angela White to get the s*x tips you never knew you needed to the secret hacks for better casual encounters — we want to help guys get the relationships they want.

It seems, however, that some of the most widely used platforms for this exact purpose may, in fact, be working against their users. Match Group, the parent company of popular dating apps Tinder, Hinge, and The League, is facing a class action lawsuit alleging that the company’s business model is designed to addict users rather than help them establish meaningful relationships.

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Plaintiffs claim that Match’s algorithms promote compulsive use of its platforms and entice users to spend hundreds of dollars annually on subscriptions, rather than focusing on helping them find their one true love. If you’ve spent any amount of time on these apps, this will likely ring true.

Filed in San Francisco, the federal suit accuses Match of employing features that gamify the dating experience, turning users into “gamblers” in search of elusive and highly addictive psychological rewards. The six plaintiffs — from California, Florida, Georgia, and New York — argue this approach contradicts Match’s advertising slogan that its apps are “designed to be deleted.”

Match Group has dismissed the allegations, saying the lawsuit has “zero merit.” The company believes its business model is not based on advertising or engagement metrics and, rather, is primarily designed to facilitate real dates and encourage users to leave the app. Match CEO Bernard Kim recently emphasised the company’s commitment to improving user experience through artificial intelligence and a willingness to abandon any features that don’t resonate with users and their goals.

“Our business model is not based on advertising or engagement metrics. We actively strive to get people on dates every day and off our apps. Anyone who states anything else doesn’t understand the purpose and mission of our entire industry.”

Match Spokesperson

The case draws parallels to a swathe of other litigation targeting tech giants like Google, Meta Platforms, ByteDance, and Snap, who all stand accused of designing features that addict young users to their platforms.

A Pew Research Center survey from July 2022 found that one in ten American adults in long-term relationships met their partners through dating sites or apps. However, the success of these apps poses a dilemma for their creators, as effective matchmaking could (and should) ultimately lead to a decrease in user engagement and revenue. The question then is how to grow a business when the end goal is for your users to stop using your product.

The plaintiffs argue that Match’s paid “benefits” — such as unlimited likes or ‘boosting’ — often result in superficial interactions like “breadcrumbing” or “ghosting,” which fail to foster genuine connections and encourage further addict-like behaviour. The lawsuit accuses Match of violating several state consumer protection laws and seeks damages for individuals who paid for subscriptions to Tinder, Hinge, or The League in the past four years.

Does this resonate with your time on dating apps? Or do you think this is just users getting salty about not finding the long-fabled “one”? Let us know.