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Tinder cracks down on OnlyFans and sugar daddy ads by removing social handles

Tinder is cracking down on users advertising sex work, like ‘sugar daddy’ arrangements (Shutterstock / Ink Drop)
Tinder is cracking down on users advertising sex work, like ‘sugar daddy’ arrangements (Shutterstock / Ink Drop)

Popular dating app Tinder has announced it will remove any social-media handles listed in public-user profile bios from today, in a bid to crack down on people using the service to advertise sex work.

“Tinder is not a place to promote businesses to try making money. Members shouldn’t advertise, promote, or share social handles or links to gain followers, sell things, fundraise, or campaign,” Tinder announced on Thursday.

“To help combat this, Tinder will remove social handles from public bios.”

Often, users on online dating services mention their usernames on social-media networks like OnlyFans, Instagram, Tiktok, and Twitter in their dating profiles in a bid to get more matches or to showcase their personalities.

On dating apps like Bumble, where women have to make the first move, this can be helpful, in case people are hoping someone else will privately message them first, using another social network.

While online safety is an ever-present concern, it seems Tinder is most concerned about users trying to advertise businesses or make money in illicit ways.

The dating app’s updated community guidelines go further. A new paragraph spells out exactly what they mean by this: “Tinder isn’t the place for any sort of sex work, escort services, or compensated relationships. So, no — don’t use Tinder to find your sugarmamma.”

Given the rise in popularity of subscription-content platforms like OnlyFans, many content creators also advertise their services on other social networks, in order to drive traffic towards premium plans.

According to digital-marketing consultants ConsultMyApp and global app data provider APPlyzer, since April the number of people searching for the OnlyFans app on the UK’s iOS App Store has soared.

Last year, people searched for OnlyFans an average of 110 times a day, but recently people are now searching for the app 550 times a day.

Focusing just on dating

According to  online dating researcher Dr Carolina Bandinelli, dating apps have become for many people their default option for finding a partner. Despite this, dating apps only recently became socially acceptable (REUTERS)
According to online dating researcher Dr Carolina Bandinelli, dating apps have become for many people their default option for finding a partner. Despite this, dating apps only recently became socially acceptable (REUTERS)

Tinder said the updated policy is designed to keep its app a “fun and safe place” for meeting people where “realness” is key. It says 40 per cent of all Tinder members list finding a long-term relationship as being their top goal on the dating app.

“The majority of Tinder’s members are 18-25, and Tinder is often their first dating experience,” said Tinder’s senior vice president of member strategy Ehren Schlue.

“To guide these younger daters as they start their dating journey, Tinder is using this policy refresh to remind and educate members about healthy dating habits — both online and in real life.”

According to Dr Carolina Bandinelli, an associate professor at the University of Warwick who studies romance and digital culture, Tinder is stamping down on sex work ads and other business promotions because it has nothing to do with its core business — dating.

“Tinder has already been called the ‘hookup app’ [in an infamous Dating Apocalypse article by Vanity Fair in 2015] and they've been trying to overcome the stigma,” she told The Standard.

“Since then, Tinder and other dating apps have tried to redefine their cultural significance away from hookups and towards healthy relationships.”

Dr Bandinelli’s research shows that Tinder is still the dominant player in the global online dating market. It is however considered to be the “entry level” of dating apps, attracting a wide section of the general public, so she is not surprised that people could be using the app to get more Instagram followers or build their OnlyFans brand presence.

She found that people are on Tinder for many different reasons, whether it be casual sex, self-esteem or to show their friends that they were popular.

“Other apps like Hinge and Bumble target a more specific audience — Bumble is for feminists. Hinge is for creatives. Feeld is for sex-positive LGBTQ+ users,” she added.