Tinder and Grindr have taken fire at an Aids healthcare group in Los Angeles after a billboard campaign was plastered over the city insinuating a link between the dating apps and contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) put up the campaign as a promotion for free STD checks and used a dozen large billboards and 45 bus stop benches showing the silhouettes of four people: one man labelled Tinder embracing a woman labelled with the word 'chlamydia', and also the silhouette of a man labelled Grinder facing another man labelled 'gonorrhoea'. The suggestion being both Tinder and Grindr, which are widely known to be used as a means for casual sex, promote a 'hook-up culture' and could lead to a rise in STDs – something owners of both apps have taken extreme objection to.
"Mobile dating apps are rapidly altering the sexual landscape by making casual sex as easily available as ordering a pizza," Whitney Engeran-Cordova, senior director of public health division for AHF, said on the foundation's blog.
"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."
The location of one the large billboards is reportedly close to Tinder's LA headquarters and within hours of going up Tinder sent a cease and desist notice to the foundation on the grounds it falsely links the use of the app with the spread of sexual disease.
"These unprovoked and wholly unsubstantiated accusations are made to irreparably damage Tinder's reputation in an attempt to encourage others to take an HIV test offered by your organisation," a response from a Tinder.
AHF's president, Michael Weinstein, denied it had done any damage to Tinder and instead sought to reinforce the notion that the popularity of dating apps such as Tinder are giving rise to a casual sexual culture that increase the exposure to STDs.
"It's logical, if you can be hooked up with someone in an urban area within minutes of course you're going to have more STDs."
Despite Tinder and Grindr's best efforts to get the billboards taken down in Los Angeles, AHF has plans to roll the campaign out across New York and Miami also.