I’m single. I have no shame in saying that I’m looking for a meaningful relationship, ones that have a better chance than not of evolving into the ridiculous and inconvenient kind of love I feel we all deserve to experience (if not once, but many times in a lifetime). I’ve used online dating since 2002 to connect with men — and I have to say, I’ve had pretty decent results! Which is why I decided to give Tinder a go when I moved to Chicago.
If you’re not familiar with Tinder, it’s like Mr. Miyagi designed a dating app. Wax on (swipe right) — you indicate that you like the looks of someone. Wax off (swipe left) — it’s a pass. The app only allows people who both “swipe right” on one another to start communicating through the app.
I dug it! It seemed to me a bit more like meeting people out and about. You see someone, you like the looks of ’em, you smile (swipe right). While it started out as a hookup app (its cousin is Grindr, an app used primarily by gay men to find hookups), I’d heard from many a new Chicago friend that they were meeting great people on Tinder — men and women alike. They especially liked it because you didn’t have to fill out an online profile resembling a chapter of Anna Karenina. Shit howdy, color me curious. So I downloaded the app.
Until last week, I was in love with it. I’d met several men for coffee or cocktails and had some lovely dates. A few I’d even seen more than once. But given that my free time was dwindling, I saw the app on the second screen of my phone and said — meh, I should delete it. I’m not using it and iPhone memory is at a premium.
Where shit starts to get weird
When I went to delete the app, I got an error message. It said there was an error in deleting my account and to try again shortly. Huh. Shit happens. Mkay. So I kinda forgot about it. And then my assistant forwarded me this email sent through the contact form on this website:
I felt chills. My heart started racing. How the fuck did this guy find me. My website. And…did he really threaten to keep after me until I got a restraining order?
This reminded me immediately to try to delete my Tinder account again. So I opened the app, deleted the account, and got the confirmation of deletion.
And then I went into my RedheadWriting Facebook page, found this doucheasaurus rex, and banned him from the page.
Note the time on the email — around noon-ish.
Where shit gets fucking scary
And then this:
Oh, and then there was this:
This had never happened before. I’d been using Tinder for 3-4 months on and off and NO ONE had ever hunted me down outside of the app before. Jesus chocolate Christ on a Lorna Doone cookie. Color me one freaked out woman.
I even re-downloaded the app, reinstalled it, and it showed that I had no account.
So where the shit-on-toast were these creeps getting my contact information?
The last straw
So, I blast off two emails to Tinder — one to their press contact and the other to support. I also send Tweets to both the app account and the Support account. I even cc’d the CEO of Tinder, Sean Rad. I’m thoroughly freaked out at this point and frankly, scared.
Here’s what that looks like:
Needless to say, I never heard from Sean Rad.
I’ve never heard another word from Tinder. It’s now over a week later.
The mystery unravels
So this guy with the vegan banana milkshake…he blames me. He says that if I didn’t want people to contact me on my Facebook business page, I shouldn’t have put that information on my Tinder profile.
WHAT. THE ACTUAL. FUCK. I didn’t. Nor would I ever. I am meticulous in all of my online dating efforts to not disclose what I do for a living or where to find me online. I’d much rather men meet the person, Erika, before the meet the persona.
It’s impossible that this information was in my Tinder, as that profile was a mere 3 sentences long. So here’s the continuation of vegan milkshake dude’s exchange:
And suddenly, I think I know what happened.
When you install Tinder, it integrates with Facebook (which is always super fucking creepy). In some ways this is good, as when you view people, you can see if you share mutual friends. I loved that feature. It also pulls in your profile pictures, letting you avoid the BS of uploading pictures to the app. LOVELY! Simple. Easy.
It also pulls in every gnat’s ass detail from the About section of your personal Facebook page. When I saw this, I promptly deleted every ounce of that information (as it had my websites, brand Facebook page, and more on it) and wrote a short 3-line bio that had something to do with a sense of humor, cats, dogs, and my match should probably like all three of those things.
Apparently when I went to delete my account and got that error message, a glitch in Tinder’s software pulled back in every ounce of the information I had purposely deleted (and was only visible to confirmed friends on Facebook) and made it visible to the creep elite of males on Tinder in Chicago.
It also apparently kept that erroneous profile visible long after I deleted my account. Up to 12 hours, in fact.
So, here’s my sad wrap up
In 24 hours, I had to deal with four men who:
- Found me on Tinder.
- Chose to ignore the mutual match safeguard in that system and contact me outside of the app.
- Received all of my private information due to a software glitch in Tinder, information that I had purposely deleted as I had no intention of sharing it with anyone in a dating capacity. Who DOES that?!?
- Caused me to write two emails and send two tweets to Tinder, none of which ever received a response.
I felt unsafe. I felt watched, stalked, victimized and more importantly — insignificant.
I shared this story on my brand Facebook page as it happened and got several unhelpful responses. Like I should create a dummy Facebook account for stuff like this. Like I should never use the same photos for online dating that I use anywhere else (which doesn’t matter as Google’s image search can take most any photo and find others of you based on that single photo — also FUCKING CREEPY). And the saddest of all were from the men and women who thought all men and women were like this — creepy.
Which simply isn’t true.
When I use a piece of software, I expect it to work. I expect it to use the permissions granted for good, not evil. I expect that information I’ve deleted remains deleted and not broadcast to the weirdos of the world.
I expect to be kept a little safe.
So, the ultimate sadness is this:
No response from Tinder on why my personal information (which I deleted) was broadcast to the public.
An app I enjoyed using brought me a guy who openly said he wouldn’t stop contacting me unless I got a restraining order in addition to 3 other men who just took up my time in my place of business — all by no fault of my own.
I’ve gone into my personal Facebook profile and removed every website link and ounce of biographical information. I’ve removed my Facebook profile from search engine results. I’ve curled up in a ball to hide my personal life, the small bit I can keep private while living the rather public one that’s an inevitable byproduct of my career.
I have no confidence that this glitch with Tinder’s Facebook integration has been rectified. I’ve received no apology. No acknowledgement. And it just makes a single girl sad.
Because I wasn’t (and nor have I ever been) looking for the hookup. I was just looking for some great guys who were looking for some great girls to see if we would have a great time together.
And now, I don’t want to do any of it.
Whether you’re a woman or man who uses online dating, there is an expectation for safety. To be treated with respect, as a valued customer, and as a human being.
So, Tinder: I liked your app but there’s a serious glitch in your software that doesn’t keep your users safe. And I know you have bigger issues to deal with right now, but in a single day, you ruined dating for me.
It took me 3+ years to return to dating following a love’s death. I’ve put a metric ass ton of work in to become a happy, healthy, and whole woman who’s ready to be a partner. And in 24 hours, you brought me 4 creeps and made me feel more unsafe than I have since a drunk guy showed up on my doorstep with a gun many years ago.
So thank you. Thank you for ignoring me. For making me feel as if I don’t matter because I’m but one user.
And most especially, thank you for making it clear that you could care less about the integrity of your technology and the experience — which I officially rate as HOLY FUCK levels of creepy — you offer your users.
Update at 11:28AM CT
Now I have the man who informed me that he saw all of this information in my Tinder profile — the one who gave information that actually made me piece this all together — threatening me with legal action. Mostly because he didn’t read the post above. This is super duper. Thank you, Tinder.