Two popular dating apps have stated their protests, as Tinder and Grindr are not happy at all with the STD billboards that have been part of a campaign launched by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF). The purpose targets the potential risks of engaging in casual and anonymous sexual encounters that have been often the topic of location dating apps.
The AHF uses their billboards to promote a free STD check up for patients, and snubs the two apps in the process. The ad features two pairs of people, facing each other with diseases like ‘gonorrhea’ and ‘chlamydia’ in opposition to both Tinder and Grindr. It has been displayed across 20 billboards and around 100 bus benches across Los Angeles.
Each company has chosen its own way to address the implication of health risks upon using their services.
Grindr, launched in 2009 and holding the title of top app for gay men, has stopped featuring the AHF paid ads altogether on their app and website. They voiced themselves to be “surprised” by the approach of the foundation, and has emphasized that they’re all on the same side in battling public health issues and wellness. Their partnership is currently in discussion.
Tinder, however, has taken a bigger stand. The immensely popular dating app that was launched in 2012, has officially sent a ‘cease and desist’ letter to AHF, demanding that they remove the ads. The company’s attorney has stated that the foundation is “falsely associating Tinder with the contraction of venereal disease”.
They have stated that while Tinder “strongly supports such testing”, the campaign only targets to harm their reputation while drawing more people to their free services. The accusations have been claimed to cause “irreparable damage”, and they have made demands to remove all ads that make such implications about their app. They have emphasized the matter that they have no scientific evidence to reinforce their claims.
However, the AHF does not seem to be backing down. According to chief counsel for operations, Laura Boudreau, the foundation “has not made any false or disparaging statements against Tinder”, and they will certainly not take down the ads. In fact, they plan to expand them to major cities like New York.
As stated by Boudreau, their intention is to bring awareness to public health and inform people of the risk of engaging in anonymous sexual encounters. Although this purpose has been rather denied by Tinder, there has been little evidence that it’s not indeed its main use.
According to AHF president, Michael Weinstein, the foundation is not trying to harm, stigmatize or shut down the apps. Instead, they’re attempting to bring a public health issue in the mix. The foundation stressed on the fact that STD cases have seen a drastic increase from 2013 to 2014, and some of it is to be blamed on dating apps.
The AHF has stated that casual sex is now “as easily available as ordering pizza”, and that the two companies would have been wiser to portray themselves as concerned for their users and working alongside them.
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