Tinder Hates Billboards about STDs. Tough!

Tinder is actually trying to censor a service providing free STD testing because they warn about hazards of using the Tinder App.

I thought we lived in a country that had a First Amendment.

But some people don’t think so, according to the L.A. Times: “Tinder demands removal of L.A. billboard that tells dating app users to get STD test.”

Tinder has sent a cease and desist letter to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation after a billboard went up in Los Angeles last week that draws a link between dating apps and a growing rate of sexually transmitted diseases.

The foundation said the billboard’s purpose is to raise awareness about the increasing STD rate and to encourage dating-app users to get regular screenings or a “free STD check.” The billboard features silhouettes of people and the words “Tinder, Chlamydia, Grindr, Gonorrhea.”

“In many ways, location-based mobile dating apps are becoming a digital bathhouse for millennials wherein the next sexual encounter can literally just be a few feet away—as well as the next STD,” Whitney Engeran-Cordova, the foundation’s public health division director, said in a statement.

“While these sexual encounters are often intentionally brief or even anonymous, sexually transmitted diseases can have lasting effects on an individual’s personal health and can certainly create epidemics in communities at large,” the statement continued.

Tinder is outraged and claims that associations between STDs and their app are “wholly unsubstantiated.” They also say the accusations are “unprovoked” as if there is reason to believe that AIDS Healthcare Foundation is launching a personal attack on Tinder as a company.

Whether or not the billboards claims are unsubstantiated, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has a right to make claims they believe are warranted whether or not Tinder or Grindr or anyone else agrees with them. It blows my mind we live in a country where a company can order other people to stop advertizing their product. How is that compatible with a society that believes in free speech?

As far as substantiating their claims, if Tinder offers casual sex and casual sex is dangerous, then the Aids Healthcare Foundation has all the substantiation that it needs.

[See also, “Super Gonorrhea May Be Spreading.”]

Furthermore, if Tinder cares at all about their service not contributing directly to the sickness and death of their customers, they ought to be encouraging them to make use of regular testing!

No one at Tinder seems to have thought about how this “negative” could have been turned into a positive, since the only way that disease problems can be avoided is if people are extra cautious—not only using the best disease prevention possible (condoms, I guess, since the customers have already decided to reject the safest method: abstinence and monogamy) but also regular monitoring.

In fact, I think Tinder is setting itself up to be charged with reckless disregard for customer safety. If they don’t want to allow their customers to associate their product with the risk of getting an STD, then it seems to me they are actively encouraging their customers to not worry about the risk of getting an STD. They are encouraging risky behavior to get their product used.

Eventually, people who are suffering from an STD will form a lawsuit. This behavior by Tinder begs the courts to find them at fault. How is this kind of attempt at censorship any less problematic than the accusations leveled against Big Tobacco?