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Hinge Launches A Matchmaking App, And It’s A Little Creepy

Setting up your friends seems great, but in practice could cause privacy problems.

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Hinge Matchmaker is a new standalone app from the dating app where you, a non-Hinge user, can see all your Facebook friends who are currently on Hinge, and suggest two of them who you think would be a good couple. Your friends will each get a notification that you suggested the match, which they can choose to ignore if they think you’re wrong. By default, everyone on Hinge will have their profile show up in Matchmaker; it’s opt-out instead of opt-in. And this raises a few potential privacy issues that the app has yet to address.


Hinge, which has been around since 2013, lets you scroll through your Facebook friends of friends for potential matches. It makes logical sense – a set-up from a friend seems like it would be a better way of meeting someone, and it takes advantage of the fact that you probably forgot a lot of your Facebook friends exist. “People may way underestimate how many friends they have that they haven't thought of yet to introduce,” Justin McLeod, founder of Hinge, told BuzzFeed News.

As someone who loves to meddle in other people’s business and also loves the show Millionaire Matchmaker, Matchmaker appealed to me greatly. So I tried it out.

Browsing through the suggested matches, I felt a eerie sense of horror. The people on there were mostly distant acquaintances — people I knew from college, former coworkers, professional contacts. I felt a little as if I shouldn’t know what their business is. Not that there’s anything shameful about being on a dating app, but just that these weren’t people who I felt like would want me to know about their personal or dating lives. It’s kind of like how it’s OK to be nude in the locker room because everyone else is, but it’s not OK to look through a peephole into the locker room. It feels like “lurk mode.”

Until now, you wouldn’t see who was on Hinge unless you were also on there to date. With this new app, you can instantly find out who of your Facebook friends are on Hinge (and thereby who is single and looking to date), something that you can’t do by simply joining Hinge as a dater. There’s plenty of circumstances I can imagine where someone might not want a Facebook friend to know they’re on a dating app – for example, if they’re cheating (which, I guess that’s on you anyway), or they got out of a relationship but aren’t ready to tell everyone yet. Or, if your relationship with the “friend” is especially convoluted — an ex or a coworker or a family member, for example.

Matchmaker also will show you the Hinge profiles of people who are inactive or did a common blunder of thinking they deleted their account when really they only deleted the app from their phone. Like other dating apps, you have to delete your account within the app. If you just delete the app from your phone, your zombie profile still exists and can be shown to people.

So let’s say you use Hinge, meet someone, fall in love, and delete Hinge from your phone (but don’t fully delete the account). Your profile is technically still on the Hinge, even though you don’t realize it. Now, your partner wants to try to set up some of their friends, so he or she downloads Matchmaker, and sees your profile as one of the suggested pairings with their other friends. Looks like you’re still trying to date on Hinge, you rotten scoundrel. Dump City, population: you.

Since the app only suggests potential couples if they both match up in age and gender preferences, it also has the capability of outing someone looking for a same sex relationship who isn’t out. In a perfect world, we’re all adults who would love to see others find love; in reality, that’s not always the case.

However, Hinge believes that most of its users aren’t afraid of being seen by their Facebook friends. According to McLeod, Hinge's users are looking for serious love matches, not horny hookup cheaters. “We haven't seen that that’s something that people are super sensitive about using Hinge,” McLeod said.

In the end, I didn't think that any of the people I saw via Matchmaker actually would be a good match for each other. For example, it set up a potential match between my college boyfriend and a former coworker.

CORRECTION

Hinge uses a scrolling motion, not swiping, and Matchmaker uses a yes/no format to go through potential matches. A previous version of this misstated the type of motion used to browse the app.

Katie Notopoulos is a senior editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Notopoulos writes about tech and internet culture is cohost of the Internet Explorer podcast.

Contact Katie Notopoulos at katie@buzzfeed.com.

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