Tinder For Organ Donation & 5 Other Times Charities Catfished Users For The Greater Good
Most of us only log on to Tinder looking for our next true love/next partner for thrilling sexytimes/next awkward wine bar date, but for the next two weeks, some UK users will have the opportunity to swipe their way into an entirely different form of commitment: Britain's National Health Service has partnered with the app and several UK celebrities in order help raise awareness about becoming an organ donor. Those who swipe right on the profiles of certain athletes, actors, and others will be redirected to the website for NHS's The Wait campaign, which will provide information both about what it's like to be a person waiting for blood or organ donation, and how users can sign up online to become organ donors.
Probably not what you're expecting to encounter when you boot up Tinder on a Friday night — but this campaign is actually far from the first time that a non-profit has used the app to encourage users to get involved in charitable causes. Tinder itself has actively collaborated with several charities, as a number of groups have looked at Tinder's massive user base (500 million users logged on to Tinder in 2014 alone) and probably thought, "Maybe these fine people want to take a second away from sending each other nude pics in order to improve the lives of others."
The five charitable Tinder projects below are just the tip of the iceberg — and a good reminder that your next good deed might be closer than you think (mixed in among profiles of people who all appear to exclusively spend their free time climbing mountains and attending outdoor music festivals, natch).
1. Matches For Men's Health
Men are 24 percent less likely to have visited the doctor in the past year than women, a situation that certainly plays a role in the fact that men are also more likely to be hospitalized for congestive heart failure or long-term diabetes complications. So how do you get more men to get check-ups? Catfish them with a stock photo of a cute nurse, of course!
In honor of Men's Health Awareness Month in June 2014, two advertising students created an account for a fictitious 28-year-old nurse named Nicole. However, those who swiped right on Nicole and tried to get her to meet up for light conversation and one of those hot wings towers quickly found themselves drawn into a conversation about their current health, which ended with their being urged to get a check-up. Nicole's creators didn't reveal data about their program's success or failure, but hey — catfishing with a benevolent purpose is at least kind of better than catfishing with no purpose except appearing on Catfish, right?
2. Amnesty International's Tinder Takeover
To celebrate 2014's International Women's Day, Amnesty International Australia ran a program (with Tinder's support) that encouraged users to switch their profile photos out to text-filled images created by Amnesty that gave facts about women's rights all over the world — like "You pick your partner. Many women aren't given a choice" — with the follow up that noted "Not all women have the choices you do," and a link to the website for Amnesty's International Women's Day campaign, which dramatized the dearth of choice that many women around the world must deal with.
3. Social Tees' Puppy Love
In many ways, dogs are the ideal companions — they give unconditional love, they don't ever want to discuss "where things are going," and they lack the physical and psychological ability to group-text their friends an embarrassing story about the time you stricken with food poisoning while taking your niece to see Santa at the mall.
So really, if you think about it, matching up with a dog is a lot better than matching up with many of the people you'd meet while dating online. This is the line of thinking that animal rescue organization Social Tees, in collaboration with ad agency BBH, explored when they developed the "Puppy Love" program, which created Tinder profiles for adoptable pets in the area. This wasn't even really catfishing, because if users swiped right on the animals, they got info about how to meet the pets, and learned more about shelter animals and pet adoption.
And even if you're not a dog person, I think we can all agree that matching with an adorable mutt is probably better than matching with someone who will text you "sup, u out?" at 3 in the morning every Saturday night for the next two years.
4. Shelter's Brick
While circulating a petition asking politicians to commit to building more affordable housing, UK housing charity Shelter decided to post a profile for a single brick on Tinder. The brick at the center of the organization's "Lonely Brick" campaign was named Brick, and had supposedly taken to Tinder after being left idle because no one was building affordable housing. Brick engaged users in playful conversation — and hopefully helped them realize that if they had the time to chat with an inanimate piece of building material, they had the time to become socially engaged.
5. Tinder AIDS Project
Of course, utilizing a dating app to bring people a message about social awareness can be a bit of a minefield — especially when the message you're spreading relates to sexual behavior. The 2014 Tinder AIDS Project campaign, overseen by Tel Aviv-based ad agency GREAT Interactive, matched users with a faux profile; a right swipe would reveal pictures of the fake profilee with multiple partners, and conclude with a reminder to have safe sex.
The idea of using Tinder to create STD awareness makes intuitive sense — a number of similar sexual health awareness programs have been conducted on Grindr — but unfortunately, the Tinder AIDS Project's promotional video only showed a female user with several different partners, which made it seem to many viewers that its ending message of "You're probably not her only match" was providing a light dusting of slut-shamery to go along with the project's message of sexual responsibility.
GREAT Interactive reached out to The Daily Dot around the time of the campaign, confirming that the project included both male and female profiles, though only the female profile was featured in the campaign's video. The campaign and subsequent criticism did provide an important lesson for future Tinder charity campaigns: messages about people's sexuality should be handled with care — i.e. should probably not be able to be potentially misread as "This woman has had sex with more than one person! Gross!"
What clear is that Tinder-based charity campaigns are still fairly new, so we don't have concrete stats about how well they work in comparison to more traditional charity campaigns — but if nothing else, they have the ability to make you feel like you accomplished something during those three hours you spent this weekend swiping left on photos of people with tigers.
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Images: Tinder; Giphy (2)