Class Action Lawsuit Accuses Match Group’s Dating Apps of Exploitative Design, Prioritizing Profits over Relationships

San Francisco, California – Match Group, the parent company of popular dating apps Tinder, Hinge, and The League, is facing a proposed class-action lawsuit alleging that the company intentionally designed its platforms to addict users rather than facilitate genuine relationships. The plaintiffs argue that Match’s “predatory” business model deceives individuals who are seeking love by exploiting their fear of missing out and encouraging compulsive use of the apps. Moreover, they claim that Match entices users to pay hefty subscription fees, amounting to hundreds of dollars a year.

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in San Francisco, alleges that Match employs features that gamify the platforms, turning users into gamblers desperately seeking elusive psychological rewards. These tactics, according to the complaint, run contrary to Match’s advertising slogan that its apps are “designed to be deleted.” The six plaintiffs, residing in California, Florida, Georgia, and New York, argue that Match’s actions are deceptive and inconsistent with its stated mission.

In response, Match Group vehemently denied the accusations leveled against it. The company dismissed the lawsuit as baseless and without merit, emphasizing that its business model does not rely on advertising or engagement metrics. Match CEO Bernard Kim explained that their goal is to facilitate real-life dates and move users away from the apps. Kim also highlighted the company’s commitment to adopting a “fast-fail mentality” to discontinue features that do not yield positive results. He further underscored the use of artificial intelligence by Tinder and Hinge to enhance user experiences.

This lawsuit echoes similar legal actions against major tech platforms, such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat, which have been accused of intentionally designing addictive features that target millions of children. The dating app industry, although significant in facilitating romantic connections, faces the challenge of losing users if successful in establishing relationships. This, in turn, would impact the revenue generated by the companies behind these apps.

The plaintiffs in the Match Group lawsuit argue that the company attempts to counterbalance the loss of users with “benefits” like unlimited profile liking. However, they contend that these features often result in practices like “breadcrumbing” and “ghosting,” where users receive empty messages that hinder relationship-building. The plaintiffs’ attorney, Ryan Clarkson, stated that Match’s apps create a game-like environment that promotes addiction, leading to feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression.

The lawsuit accuses Match Group of negligence and violating state consumer protection laws. The plaintiffs seek unspecified damages for individuals who have paid to use Tinder, Hinge, or The League in the past four years. Additionally, they call for new warnings about the risks of addiction and the removal of Match’s “designed to be deleted” language from their advertising.

This legal battle against Match Group highlights ongoing concerns about the ethical practices and potential harms associated with addictive features within popular dating apps. The outcome of this case could have significant implications for the wider technology industry and its responsibility to protect users from addiction and its adverse effects.