Tinder, as some of you well know, is a racy app that can get you into some freaky situations with the rightward swipe of a finger.
It's strange, then, to learn that the hook-up app's operators have thin skin about a billboard campaign that urges its users to get tested for STDs for free.
What's the problem with reminding customers that this stuff could have consequences? The billboard campaign — at least one of the ads is in West Hollywood — also targets gay and bisexual hook-up app Grindr.
Tinder recently fired off a cease-and-desist letter to the nonprofit organization behind the billboards, Hollywood-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, arguing that the advertising “falsely” associates the app “with the contraction of venereal diseases.”
The letter, written by Tinder attorney Jonathan D. Reichman, says the billboard's “accusations are made to irreparably harm Tinder's reputation in an attempt to encourage others to take an HIV test offered by your organization.”
The lawyer goes on to argue that the ad campaign's “statements” are not based on science and would not withstand “critical analysis.”
Tinder, which the letter says “strongly supports such testing,” accuses AHF of false advertising, disparagement, libel and interference with its business.
The app demands that AHF take down its billboards.
It doesn't appear that the organization is going to relent. In a TV news interview over the weekend, AHF president Michael Weinstein argued that apps like Tinder's are responsible for an uptick in STD reports.
AHF chief counsel wrote to Tinder's lawyer to say the billboards would remain and that the group has not made “any false or disparaging statements against Tinder.”
“Rather than trying to chill AHF’s public health message by threatening AHF with frivolous lawsuits, AHF urges Tinder to support its message of sexual health awareness by encouraging Tinder users to get tested for STIs and to get treated promptly if they have an infection,” wrote AHF attorney Laura Boudreau.
Grindr, meanwhile, dropped AHF’s paid ads, which also focused on free STD testing, the organization says.
The foundation indicated that it ultimately wants hook-up apps to display the equivalent of “drink responsibly” warnings for those about to get into bed with strangers.
“Both Tinder's and Grindr’s response to our latest public service ad on STD awareness has been really tone-deaf,” says Whitney Engeran-Cordova, senior director of AHF's public health division. “We expected that these businesses would be concerned about the sexual health of their customers, from whom they make millions. Instead they call lawyers. Their priorities seem clear.”