On Wednesday, Tinder introduced a new “Reactions” feature which lets users send each other a range of animated emoji. And in support of this feature, the dating app has launched a bizarre new campaign to explain how these cutesy animations are the solution to skeezy behaviour online.
The Reactions are emoji responses — ranging from hearts and laughs to a digital eye roll — that splash across the screen during conversation. Users can browse the options by tapping a smiley icon within their Tinder chats. That all sounds innocent enough, but the hookup app is framing the new feature as a part of a strange “Menprovement Initiative” to deal with bad men.
When we first heard about the “Menprovement Initiative,” we weren’t sure if it was a bad joke or an actual effort to combat harassment against women on its platform. But according to a blog post on Tinder’s website, it’s the latter.
“So if he’s sweet, send hearts; if he’s funny, send laughs; and if he’s brilliant, send a round of applause,” Tinder wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “But if he’s acting douchey, it’s time to take the initiative.”
The aforementioned initiative apparently involves throwing digital martinis on men — one of several Reactions only available to women. While not all of the Reactions are designed for douches, there are a number that are clearly intended for creeps. Take a look:
“In our fast-paced world, what woman has time to respond to every act of douchery she encounters?” Tinder’s blog post states. “With Reactions, you can call it out with a single tap. It’s simple. It’s sassy. It’s satisfying.”
Stranger still, Tinder launched a series of weird comedy videos to promote the new feature. They include comedian Whitney Cummings and several Tinder employees conducting whimsical experiments on douche-y men.
If a man is disrespecting or harassing a woman online, there are a few tools at her disposal. She can block him. She can report him. She can ignore him. But sending a playful emoji to try and convey your discomfort is not going to be effective. In fact, by responding to the shitty behaviour, such a reply arguably incentivizes it. With an emoji.
Tinder did note in its blog post that it is “rolling out messaging standards to all users to set the tone and promote best practices for a better Tinder experience,” adding that the platform has recently made reporting easier for users. If the dating app truly wanted to demonstrate it was prioritising anti-harassment measures, however, it wouldn’t bury these updates below a comedy video — and it wouldn’t champion emoji as a way to deal with bad men online.
“Bring in a comedian!” should not be your response to the question “How should we deal with harassment on our platform?” And yet here we are.