2017 research published in the journal Social Sciences has found dating apps do not seem to be responsible for high rates of STD infections in the USA.
The research looked at the impact of Match.com, Our Time, Hinge, Hitch, How About We, OKCupid, Grindr, Down Dating, Bumble, Score, At First Sight, Plenty of Fish, eHarmony, Zoosk, Tinder, Adult friend finder, Ashley Madison, Instagram and Facebook on STD prevalence.
To measure user engagement, Google search data pertaining to each dating / social networking site was used. This served as a proxy for number of active users, which is difficult to find and may be measured inconsistently across platforms.
STD prevalence data for each state was taken from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
In order to isolate the effect of social networking on STD prevalence, the study controlled for a range of socioeconomic variables including population, race, age, income, education, and population density.
States with higher proportions of Match.com users, OKCupid users and Down Dating users were found to have more STD cases, while all other dating and social apps led to fewer cases of STDs.
The results are said to suggest that: “while social media may be allowing individuals to expand their set of choices of a partner, it does not necessarily result in a higher incidence of STDs.”
The study notes that future research may wish to use panel data and examine the effects of social networks on STD prevalence over time.
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