Tinder and Grindr have both hit back at a billboard campaign that says users of hookup apps should get tested for STDs.
Last week, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) released a billboard campaign designed to raise awareness about the links between hookup apps and STDs.
The billboard showed two figures, one printed with a Tinder logo, the other with a Grindr logo, kissing two silhouettes branded with the words chlamydia and gonorrhoea.
However since the adverts were put up, Tinder has issued the nonprofit with a “cease and desist” letter, saying they must remove all mentions of Tinder from the billboards.
The letter, from Kenyon & Kenyon LLP in New York, says the AHF is “falsely associating Tinder with the contraction of venereal diseases.
“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.
“While Tinder strongly supports such testing, the Billboard’s statements are not founded upon any scientific evidence, and are incapable of withstanding critical analysis.”
Tinder’s lawyers say the campaign contravenes false advertising law under California State Business & Professional Code 17500.
Tinder says the AHF must immediately remove all references to Tinder from the billboard and their website, and stop making “any and all false and disparaging statements against Tinder”.
And it is not just Tinder that has reacted negatively to the AHF’s latest campaign – gay hookup app Grindr has also cut off AHF’s paid advertising for its free STD testing services.
Speaking about this reaction from the dating apps, Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Senior Director at Public Health Division for AIDS Healthcare Foundation said: “Both Tinder and Grindr’s response to our latest public service ad on STD awareness has been really tone deaf. We expected that these businesses would be concerned about the sexual health of their customers, from whom they make millions. Instead they call lawyers. Their priorities seem clear.
“Nine out of ten alcohol companies include ‘Please Drink Responsibly’ warnings on their products. Meanwhile, hook up application developers take a ‘Wild West/Anything Goes’ attitude to possible consequences of their apps despite clinical studies showing a correlation between app use and increased STDs.”
The organisation again mentions a Rhode Island Department of Heath study that equated the rise in STDs to the popularity of hookup apps, along with another study by Beymer on location-based dating apps and gay men, and the recent Vanity Fair article about the emergent hookup culture amongst younger generations.
In its reaction to the cease and desist letter, the AHF said it “respectfully declines” to remove references to Tinder from its billboard campaign.
Laura Boudreau, Chief Counsel for Operations for AHF said: “Rather than trying to chill AHF’s public health message by threatening AHF with frivolous lawsuits, AHF urges Tinder to support its message of sexual health awareness by encouraging Tinder users to get tested for STIs and to get treated promptly if they have an infection.
“In short, AHF urges Tinder to rethink its attack on AHF’s message and re-direct its energy toward supporting the health of the consuming public who have made Tinder the success that it is.”
The AHF is the largest global AIDS organisation, and currently provides medical care and services to over 470,000 people in 36 countries worldwide.
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