Tinder Social alarms users by showing Facebook friends

Turns out some people want to keep their online dating habits private.

Turns out some people like to keep their private life...private.

So when Tinder—the dating app that lets users “swipe right” to find matches, often for quick flings—announced this week that it was testing a new feature that let users see each other’s Facebook friends, the backlash set in quickly.

Tinder just as quickly told users how to to disable the new “Tinder Social” features, but company officials sounded defensive when making the announcement.

“We are only testing (Tinder Social) at this point, but it’s important to note Tinder’s not a secret considering 70% of users download Tinder because their friends recommend it,” the company said in a blog post.

What Tinder’s developers apparently hadn’t considered: A dating app recommendation from your buddy might not go over so well with your wife. Some people keep that information compartmentalized. (Or so we’ve heard.)

The feature has only been tested, so far, with Australian users. On Twitter, users who didn’t sound the alarm at having their private life inadvertently exposed instead tittered at what they saw as Tinder’s effort to enable, ahem, group activities. (Wink wink, nudge nudge.)

But Tinder Social is “not group dating,” the company countered in its announcement. “It’s a fun new way to meet new people out with your friends.”

Users can opt out of Tinder Social through the app’s settings, if their app has been updated with the new service. “While this is just a test for now,” the company said in its blog post, “we look forward to launching it globally soon!”

Why it matters: Tinder has been a huge success—the company claims to have made 10 billion matches and reportedly has a base of 50 million users. But how developers want an app to be used can conflict with how people actually use a service. In this case, there was a clear user expectation of privacy. It’s too early to say whether Tinder damaged its brand with the Tinder Social experiment, but the backlash suggests its developers will have to find a different path to growth if they want to keep the loyalty of current subscribers.

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Joel Mathis

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