Did Tinder inadvertently promote a racial stereotype in a short, 30-second clip?
Last week Hong Kong media outlet Nextshark spotted a video on dating app Tinder that it argued was, well, insensitive at best.
The clip, which played at log-in, showed a female user opening the dating app and swiping on faces using the signature gestures, left for rejection and right for “let’s chat.” Two white faces get swiped right. So does one black one. The lone Asian male? Swipe left.
Nextshark slammed the video for perpetuating the stereotype that Asian men are undateable.
“For most users, the video seems harmless—after all, it’s not likely that any given person will swipe right on all profiles they come across. But Asian men have an uphill battle in the dating arena: they have the lowest response rates out of any racial group, even when it comes to Asian women,” wrote Nextshark.
The article was subsequently posted on Reddit’s “Aznidentity“ forum, which describes itself as a community “against effects of mainstream subconscious bias against Asians, media discrimination, the bamboo ceiling that frustrates Asian advancement.” In a manner typical for anonymous online debate, many spewed vitriol toward the ad.
“Tinder is just another white company trying to gip money away from Asians while trying to shit on Asians at the same time, just like Hollywood,” wrote one commenter, receiving 22 upvotes.
In response to the video, one local matchmaker told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post: “This video not only disrespects the market that Tinder seeks to serve, but also reinforces the stereotype Asian men aren’t attractive to women.”
Tinder told Quartz that it is not running the video in any region any longer.
“This video was part of a small test that we rejected and are no longer using. Though it was not our intention, we see in retrospect how the content could be seen as insensitive, and we deeply apologize for any offense caused,” said a spokesman. “We believe that everyone deserves the chance to find their match on Tinder and we strive to make it a community of acceptance and inclusivity for all individuals.”
Asian men peeved at Tinder—and wedded to the idea that online dating is already plenty hard for them—have numbers to back up their grievances. In 2014, dating site OKCupid revealed data showing that Asian men, along with black women, tend to get fewer matches then members of other races. Asian-mixed intermarriage rates in the US are relatively high at 27%, but Asian women “outmarry” at a higher rate than Asian men, according to Pew Research Center. And in a survey of 354 Asian men conducted by tech entrepreneur Jason Shen, 46% of respondents replied they had been told at least once “I don’t date Asian men.”