The dating app has introduced free animated reactions that are custom made to fight bad behavior, but not everybody is impressed
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Tinder has just rolled out Reactions, a set of animations that users can send to each other, with the express purpose of combating sexual harassment. The dating app introduced Reactions with a short film starring Whitney Cummings and an all-female staff focus group at Tinder, in which the latter explained to the actress how to use Reactions to call out lewd behavior online.
The video, part of a series termed the “Menprovement Initiative,” shows a “Really?” emoticon featuring a warning button being sent to an actor playing a character Tinder calls a “douchebag” and an animation of a martini being digitally poured on another man’s Tinder profile pic. Other potential Reactions include an eyeroll and hands clapping, which can presumably be used to both sarcastic and earnest ends.
“We created Tinder Reactions so that our users can give instant feedback—both positive as well as constructive—to those who need it most,” the romantic connections platform said in a blog post. “With Reactions, you can call it out with a single tap. It’s simple. It’s sassy. It’s satisfying.”
There’s no doubt that sexual harassment is a major issue on dating platforms, with women bearing the brunt of rude behavior. According to a 2014 report from the Pew Research Center, 19% of internet users report having witnessed sexual harassment online. The numbers get worse on OKCupid and Tinder, both of which are owned by New York-based IAC. Per a poll published last year by Consumer’s Research, an educational organization, 38% of OKC users and 39% of those on Tinder say that they’ve been harassed.
That said, the response to Reactions from Twitter users and dating experts isn’t a glowing one. Indeed, some think that they’re quite frivolous. “The choices are so silly and ridiculous,” says Erika Ettin, who runs D.C.-based dating company A Little Nudge. “They make light of someone’s bad behavior. A silly graphic of a martini glass being thrown is not going to make someone behave better.”
Emojis don’t necessarily make everything better either. Just witness the surfeit of eggplant icons, which resemble male genitalia, popping up around Tinder.
For its part, Tinder has long allowed users to report harassment and to block users they find annoying. But Ettin recommends going the extra mile, since blocking someone may suggest the victim is just ignoring bad behavior. “I encourage people to say ‘that was offensive, how would your mother feel if she saw that?” she says. “Telling people not to do that again is more empowering than an animation of a martini glass or a tennis ball saying ‘the ball’s in your court.’”
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