Tinder: Research shows how the algorithm discriminates older users

Consumer watchdog, Which? accuses Tinder of breaking data protection laws through unfair pricing.

Online dating is no walk in the park, but it turns out it could be costly as well, depending on your age. An investigation has revealed that the popular dating app, Tinder, charges people over 30 more to access its premium services.

Opaque Algorithms

British consumer watchdog, Which?, used almost 200 mystery shoppers to create profiles on the dating app. Findings from that study showed that aged 30 to 49 paid 48 percent (£24) more than younger users, while those over 50 faced a 46-percent-higher bill, £23.19.

Which? director of policy and advocacy, Rocio Concha, said:

Our research uncovered concerning evidence that people using Tinder could unknowingly be facing higher charges because of their age. This suggests possible unlawful price discrimination, whether or not it is intentional on Tinder’s part, and potentially unlawful processing of personal data.

The consumer watchdog also accuses Tinder of using algorithms that are not transparent and predictable, denying users the chance to provide explicit consent to their personal data being used to determine prices. Head of strategic insight at Which?, Kate Alpin said:

We need firms to face up to the fact that if you're using complicated pricing algorithms, you need to be ready to defend those. The important thing is that we have a system where firms can be held accountable when their pricing practices result in unfairness and potentially unlawful practices.

Different Application of Subscription Policy

Which? did state that although it was sometimes justifiable under UK law to offer age-based price variations for the same product or service, such as discounts to over-65s or students, in the case of Tinder, it was unclear as to why over-30s were paying more.

The Texas-based company, which raked in $1.4 billion dollars in revenue in 2020, said the price difference can be explained by the company’s discount policy, which works differently depending on the location.

Tinder operates a global business and, in some geographies, we offer discounted subscriptions to younger members. In addition, we frequently offer promotional rates — which can vary based on factors like location or length of subscription. No other demographic information is considered in our pricing structure.

Which? initially accused Tinder of hiking prices for gay and lesbian users, but it has since retracted that portion of its claims.

The consumer group has filed a complaint to the Information Commissioner's Office and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission for further investigations.

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