Tinder Likely to Follow Pattern of Dating App Predators

Meghan Rogers, Opinion Editor

The mobile dating application Tinder’s popularity has been on the rise in the past year, but unlike most dating apps, is not limited to singles 18 or over. Tinder is different from other apps in that it connects users in the age brackets of 13-17 and 18+. For hormonal teens, this sounds like a dream come true.However, there have been others who have been taking advantage of the 13-17 age bracket on similar apps.

Tinder works by having its users create profiles with pictures of themselves and sync it to their Facebook profiles, where they take the age of user that they submitted on Facebook to determine where they fall in the brackets. Although Tinder likes to think that this is an accurate way to protect minors against predators, many Facebook profiles are fake. In seventh grade when everyone started getting a Facebook, many, out of a habit from being born in the age of internet, set their age as 18. Now in high school, many high schoolers are supposedly celebrating their 21st birthdays. It is easy to make yourself older, and just as easy to make yourself younger.

Tinder matches users with others in their age bracket who are nearby, and this selection can be narrowed down to as close as a one mile radius. From this generated selection of people, each user can either “swipe right” to like them or “swipe left” to pass. If both parties like each other, they are matched and can talk online. Because this is seen as mutual, Tinder fans claim that this is protection as well. However, predators have been known to stalk dating sites that reach out to a younger audience. According to The New York Times, in 2012, a dating app called Skout was briefly forced to shut down its social network for 13-17 year olds after three men masquerading as teenagers were accused of raping children they met on the app. A pedophile could easily pose as a teenager with pictures that aren’t of themselves, as fake Facebook profiles are extremely easy to make. Can someone really consent when they think they are talking to someone else?

When talking, Tinder shows the approximate location of your match. Even though it’s approximate, this is still too much information to give for most, but users are unable to turn it off because the GPS system is how users are matched. If a user wanted to disclose their location, they should be able to do so by choice, and not by default.

According to Tinder, over seven percent of their users fall into the 13-17 age bracket. For an app that matches roughly 10 million people a day, this figure is actually quite significant. Even if there were no predators, this age bracket is too broad. This means that a 13-year-old seventh grader could be matched with a 17-year-old senior. Even though they are both minors and it is legal to be dating, the younger user is too immature for that relationship, and it could easily lead to abuse. Especially because once a 17-year-old is matched with others in the 13-17 age bracket, the old matches remain once they turn 18, even if they can’t make new matches in that bracket.

The 13-17 age bracket should not be allowed on Tinder. Users in this bracket should exercise caution when being matched, for the person behind the screen may not be what they appear to be in their pictures. Users should use discretion if using this app as it will likely follow the pattern of most apps that offer this age bracket, or better yet, avoid it all together.