Can I Sue Tinder for Not Receiving Any Matches?
Today’s dating market can be brutal. While the focus shifts towards outside appearances and witty opening lines, the barriers to finding a partner become unequal. Further, the Pareto-Principle is in full effect, meaning the top 20% of people that excel in the aforementioned two disciplines will attract 80% of the opposite — or same — sex’s attention. Such inequality leads to frustration, sadness, and legal questions. This article will explore different aspects of Tinder and how someone might channel their frustration into a legal blizzard.
But before that, I want to clarify two things. First, this is not legal advice but rather meant to inform and entertain. Second, this article focuses on Tinder only; not because I am affiliated with them, but because the questions I will answer can only be answered for each case individually. Writing about various platforms, therefore, wouldn’t make any sense. With that out of the way, let’s figure out the contractual obligations Tinder is meant to fulfill.
Can I sue Tinder when I lost a date due to technical issues?
Imagine you were matched with the love of your life, but before you could text them, Tinder shuts down its service. For one evening, you weren’t able to send any messages to anyone through the app. As the next day comes, and with it the app's abilities to function properly, you find out that your perfect match already found another soulmate via the old-fashioned analog way. You are furious and want to know what your options are. Can you sue the love of your life to date you instead of this other person? Or can you sue the other person to at least step away until you had a fair chance? After all, you matched with the love of your life first! Or if this doesn’t work, can you sue Tinder? And if so, what for?
The bad news: there isn’t a feasible way to achieve the first two claims. People can do what people want to do unless they are breaking laws, which in this case, they usually don’t. If you were already married to the love of your life, you would technically be able to obligate them to not engage in other romantic relationships and instead reconnect to you, at least under German law. This results from section 1353(1) of the German Civil Code.
(1) Marriage is entered into for life. The spouses have a mutual duty of conjugal community; they are responsible for each other.
(2) A spouse is not obliged to comply with the demand of the other spouse to create the community if the demand shows itself as an abuse of his right or if the marriage has broken down.
However, this claim cannot be followed up by suing them, making the claim itself rather useless. Additionally, subsection 2 might also eliminate the claim.
“TINDER DOES NOT REPRESENT OR WARRANT THAT (A) THE SERVICE WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED, SECURE OR ERROR FREE, (B) ANY DEFECTS OR ERRORS IN THE SERVICE WILL BE CORRECTED (…).”
But for the sake of further legal explorations, let’s assume that Tinder did guarantee a functioning service: What would the caused damage be? If you missed the love of your life because of technical difficulties, for what exactly could you sue Tinder? The most apparent damage would be that you missed out on your soulmate. Tinder could offer you to promote your profile so that you can find the next love of your life. And, depending on the ability of the app’s algorithm, it could show your profile to people at times, during which they are most likely to swipe right.
However, this wouldn’t work if you believe that there is exactly only one person who fits you best. Your soulmate, therefore, is gone, and the damage is done for eternity. There is no way that Tinder could reimburse you into the state that you would have been in if the service functioned properly — unless your love’s current relationship fails and they are heading back to using Tinder again. If this isn’t the case, you pretty much can only sue for financial compensation. Which poses a philosophical question: What’s the worth of love, or a relationship?
First of all, one can look at the raw numbers. If the person you are missing out on due to the technical error had been a billionaire, you would have been set for life. Therefore, it seems reasonable to demand exactly that in damages. Additionally, a relationship offers plenty of further benefits. Living together with the love of your life may make you happier and — at least if you are a man — prolong your life. How much are a few additionally lived years worth?
Looking at this, it makes sense that Tinder isn’t guaranteeing a functioning service. However, when trying to pursue the above damages, you may encounter another legal problem: Causation. To sue for damages, you need to prove that the defendant's conduct is causal for the result. According to the famous “conditio sine qua non” or the translated “but-for” test, it needs to be asked: “but for the defendant’s action, would the victim have been harmed as she was?” Applied to our case, we need to ask whether you would have had a relationship with the love of your life if the service had worked properly. And it’s going to be quite a challenge to prove this one since there are plenty of factors that will influence the outcome.
In conclusion, it’s tough to miss out on a date because of technical difficulties. But in the end, you probably won’t be able to sue for compensation successfully. Still, I have heard that a Blue French Horn might help you get back together with the soulmate you missed out on.
Can I sue Tinder if my match presented wrong information about themselves, implicit or explicit?
Let’s assume the following matter: You saw someone on Tinder with pictures of them wearing merchandise of the New York Jets. As a big fan of this team, you decide to swipe right and start a conversation. During this conversation, you are — next to talking about their passion for the New York Jets — arranging a date. For this date, you have to travel across the country, having to spend thousands of dollars on the trip. However, you deem it to be worth it since the other person is a fellow Jets fan, and thus, potentially your soulmate. Yet, once you arrive on their property, you can already see Patriots-flags waving in the wind. Upon meeting, your date turns out to be a diehard Patriots fan, making your trip as well as the planned date obsolete.
Who can you turn to for compensation concerning the damages you suffered due to the wasted expenses?
First of all, we surely want to look into suing Tinder itself; after all, they are probably more solvent than your potential date. Is Tinder liable for presenting you wrong information? Do they have a duty to fact-check the impressions people are presenting on their profiles?
“TINDER DOES NOT REPRESENT OR WARRANT THAT (…) ANY CONTENT OR INFORMATION YOU OBTAIN ON OR THROUGH THE SERVICE WILL BE ACCURATE.”
Information, including any detail about a person expressed or implied over the app, is not guaranteed to be true. It’s reasonable to exclude such a matter, especially since Tinder has little to no control of what kind of information — or, respectively, disinformation — people are spreading on it. And we surely can’t keep Tinder responsible for it either. Or can we?
Tinder doesn’t represent a typical social network with a feed and posts like Facebook or Instagram; however, it still has many social aspects. You can create a profile, swipe through other profiles, and communicate with users. To be exact, Tinder is considered to be a so-called geosocial network since you are regularly matched with users near your current location. And as such a social network, it could have the duty to fight disinformation shared on it.
However, laws against disinformation are not fully adapted to the digital era due to their problematic implications for freedom of speech, so most governments rely on social media companies' voluntary help. Furthermore, it is quite a controversial idea to hold social media companies responsible for the content spread by their users. Ultimately this would imply the need for a filtering system before someone is posting or spreading information, which would most likely be based on A.I. The threat of having posts (wrongly) filtered out will further massively violate freedom of speech, complicating the legislature process even further.
But even if there will be a law implemented to fight disinformation that will hold the social media companies responsible for it, we would still need to differentiate. There is a tiny but significant distinction between lying about my favorite sports team on social media and promoting genocide. The International Covent on Civil and Political Rights, for example, allows specific restrictions concerning freedom of speech for the protection of public order, the individual, or to prohibit discrimination and propaganda for war (see Articles 19(3) and 20). It’s already partially controversial to violate freedom of speech in these cases, and it will be quite unlikely to allow prosecuting social media companies for their members lying about their favorite sports team.
In the end, the best you can do is simply enjoy your vacation with another person instead of the Patriot fan. If you don’t like to approach others directly, I know of a great app for this.
Finally, can I sue Tinder for not receiving any matches?
Hypothetically, if you aren’t matching with anyone on Tinder, although you were swiping right like crazy, could you at least make some money suing someone? This depends on the app’s contractual obligations.
Tinder doesn’t promise a result but is rather providing a service — although not even the latter will be guaranteed, as we learned above. This differentiates Tinder — and its financial success — from marital agencies that are regularly paid for the successful arrangement of a marriage. Tinder can’t control its users’ actions and, therefore, can’t be held responsible for providing you with a certain number of matches.
Or can it? Technically, with the help of A.I. and algorithms, Tinder could promote people with fewer matches more often, especially to users that might be a good fit — or simply usually swipe right. The company already shows that it is capable of such services, as you gain access to so-called “Top Picks” daily once you pay for a Gold or Platinum membership. But even if you are paying for being preferred by the almighty algorithms, success cannot be guaranteed because most of the work will still be dependent on you and you only.
Yes, you sadly aren’t even allowed to use bots for the online dating aspect:
Therefore, you agree not to:
use or develop any third-party applications that interact with the Service or other members’ Content or information without our written consent.
In the end, Tinder’s service and upgrades are comparable to Instagram ads. They have to provide you with the service you are paying for; however, they cannot guarantee you any success, i.e., clicks on your ads or swipes on your profile.
Dating in the modern time can be a stressful experience. By inviting millions of potential matches onto our smartphones, we are basically constantly on the spot and are simultaneously putting other people on the spot, too. If a swipe doesn’t lead to marriage, you cannot sue Tinder for damages. And I believe that’s right. We shouldn’t mix legal questions with love; that’s what divorce is for, after all.
“Medicine, law, business, engineering; these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love; these are what we stay alive for.”
- Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society