Political candidates and activists have turned to dating apps like Tinder and Bumble to connect with voters, in what some call 'off label' uses of the services.
Days ahead of the Iowa Caucuses vote, Rhiannon Payne was on the Bumble dating app -- not to find a partner but to press her case for her candidate, Elizabeth Warren. 'I was tired and bored and looking at Bumble, and I saw all these potential voters, all these guys I was swiping through,' she
Payne, promoting herself as a"bad bitch" for Warren, politely deflected several requests for dates, but said most of the men who contacted her were"polite and receptive," and that the experience was positive for the campaign effort.Stefanie Duguay, a professor at Canada's Concordia University who has researched"off label" uses of dating apps, said there were signs they could be useful for political campaigns.
Jen Winston, a 31-year-old New Yorker, said she used the premium version of Tinder, allowing her to change her location on the app, to speak with voters in Georgia and North Dakota about candidates in the 2018 election.Winston, Payne and others reported being banned for campaigning, but app policies leave some wiggle room.
New York congressional candidate Suraj Patel in 2018 encouraged supporters to use dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, Hinge or Grindr to"talk to as many people as possible," in a strategy called"Tinder banking."Candidates are always looking for new ways to connect with potential voters, but some strategists say dating apps have only limited potential.
"It's perfect for Iowa where you are working to get commits. I don't think it's an effective strategy beyond that."Story continuesMonaco points out this strategy was already used in 2017 British elections when activists supporting the Labour Party created a Tinder Election bot and persuaded supporters to"lend" their dating app profiles so that the automated program would send political messages to recipients.
"It makes it difficult for bot detection tools to find these accounts."
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