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Tinder and Grindr Bite Back Against STD Awareness Billboards

The AIDs Healthcare Foundation recently unveiled a new set of billboards in Los Angeles designed to spread awareness about safe sex during random hook-ups. In-keeping with current times, they all mention Tinder and Grindr. As you might imagine, both companies are pretty upset about this. Tinder have demanded that the billboards be taken down, whilst Grindr have gone so far as to remove the foundation's STD awareness ads from the app.

The billboards (of which there are currently 12 in the city, with 45 more ads on benches) show a pair of silhouettes leaning in as if about to kiss. One has either 'Tinder' or 'Grindr' scrawled across the face, whilst the other has the name of a particular STD like chlamydia or gonorrhoea, with information about how to get tested lower down as a well as general warning about using dating apps responsibly. While it's a little on the nose, the sentiment is definitely closer to 'use these apps responsibly' than 'this is how you get an STD'.

According to Tinder, it's not merely the fact that these ads link STDs and their app that's the issue, but more that the AHF are throwing them under the bus to promote their own testing centres instead of general STD awareness. That's a fair point, but Tinder must surely realise that any action taken by them against an STD foundation will be awful for their PR. It's not an excuse, but Tinder do already have a reputation for responding to bad publicity with excess bile, something the AHF could have considered when they first designed the ads.

Grindr don't have the same reputation, but in a way their response has been even more dramatic. The AHF aren't the only STD charity they support, but the act of actually removing ads from their service could be characterised as irresponsible. Both have said that any suggestion of a link between dating apps and STDs is unfounded, but there is evidence that contradicts that claim. In May, the Rhode Island Department of Health released a report which stated that a number of STDs had increased dramatically among young demographics, especially syphilis (79%) and HIV (33%).

Since all this started, AHF have encouraged both Tinder and Grindr to work with them, rather than coming after them with lawsuits and the like. Neither has responded, but even if they don't directly agree with the approach, they would be wise to work the foundation out of a sense of self-preservation if nothing else. STDs are a very real, very significant risk and the fact that apps like theirs have measurably increased the rate of sex amongst younger demographics imparts a responsibility to make sure people are in the know. If you want to sell cigarettes, you can't raise issue when people remind everyone that they cause cancer.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Tinder and Grindr Bite Back Against STD Awareness Billboards Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, October 06, 2015 Rating: 5

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