10 Weird Ways Tinder Is Changing the World

Increasing Social and Political Awareness
Fake Tinder profiles for Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders on display at a party hosted by Tinder and Independent Journal Review. Al Drago/CQ Roll Call/Getty

Tinder's simple swipe to reject or accept functionality has applications beyond dating. One of those applications is politics.

After noticing that people were using the app to campaign for Bernie Sanders and Marco Rubio (getting themselves reported and banned in the process), Tinder partnered with nonprofit Rock the Vote to introduce the "Swipe the Vote" poll in March 2016. The 10-question survey lets U.S. users swipe left or right on issues to match them with the presidential candidate whose policies they agree with most.

Tinder also partnered with British nonprofit Bite the Ballot to release a similar poll in the United Kingdom before the June 23, 2016 referendum on whether the U.K. should leave or remain in the European Union. It included true or false questions about the EU and Britain's relationship with it. Britain voted to leave the EU 52 percent to 48 percent, and the vote has since been dubbed "Brexit." Polling results suggest that 73 percent of voters 18 to 24 chose "remain" [source: Ashcroft].

In the same vein, the Voter app, launched in 2015, has users answer eight questions by swiping left or right. It returns the closest matching political party and presidential candidate. Users can go through additional questioning for more precise results, and enter their address to bring up local candidate matches. The information is drawn from databases containing candidates' public stances, speeches, voting records, endorsements and funding sources. All of the above apps also include a voter registration link.

Groups have also used dating apps to promote public health, albeit in ways that break the terms of service. During Men's Health Awareness Month in 2014, a Tumblr group set up a fake "Nurse Nicole" account on Tinder to encourage men to get prostate and other health exams. The Marin AIDS Project in California set up fake accounts on Grindr and other apps to encourage HIV testing.

Others set up fake accounts as social experiments. After getting some vulgar come-ons via Tinder, blogger Cristiana Wilcoxon set up an account for a sexy-talking female cheeseburger named Patty. Responses ranged from funny to, well, vulgar. Writer Joe Veix set up a fake account for a golden retriever named Hero that responded to people in barks. He got some jokey and annoyed responses when Hero was listed as male, but he got more matches, and more verbal harassment and sexual language, when he switched Hero's gender to female.