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The explosion in the use of dating apps has allowed people from all over the world to meet potential partners. Among these apps are Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, and Grindr, which are among the most popular dating apps. Dating apps have played a huge role in the age of social media and the internet. Although all dating apps contributed to this, they all did so differently. How did Tinder contribute? 

In this text, we will analyze Tinder through the circuit of culture, which includes identity, representation, production, regulation, and consumption. We will explore the effect Tinder has had on culture. This text will go through the circuit of culture in separate sections, all five aspects of the circuit of culture are very interconnected. Due to this, the information presented in each section can be relevant to multiple aspects of the circuit of culture.  

What is Tinder? (Identity)

Tinder has become one of the most popular dating apps. It was founded in 2012, and ever since it has become a way for adults to meet potential future partners or to meet their next bad date. The creators of Tinder are Sean Rad and Justin Mateen (Stampler, 2014). The most well-known feature that Tinder has is the swiping feature. The swiping feature allows users to dislike or like someone’s profile. When two users like each other’s profile a match is created, and they can message each other. This feature is an essential part of Tinder’s identity.  

Most users on Tinder are ages 18-24 (Stampler, 2014). The users who use Tinder the most are college-aged people. This contributes a lot to the identity of Tinder, especially when you consider that the founders created the app with the intention of getting as many users in that age range as possible. The identities of those who use Tinder will be further discussed in the Consumption section.  

Another big aspect of Tinder’s identity is how the dates that come out of Tinder tend to be bad. At the least, the representation of Tinder contributes to this idea. In fact, Tinder is aware of this and is trying to create a feature that helps users verify their identity.  


The way Tinder is represented in the general public is not always in the most positive light. Online dating in general is often talked about in a negative light. If you search Tinder on the podcasts section of Spotify, you will get a multitude of podcasts about Tinder. Some examples include The Official Tinder Podcast, Tinder Tales, and Tinder Tuesday. These podcasts either talk about Tinder profiles and opening lines or bad Tinder dates. Another site that has a lot of media involving Tinder is YouTube. If you search Tinder on YouTube, you will find hundreds of videos about how to build a good Tinder profile, people reacting to other users’ profiles, and much more. Mentions of Tinder can even be found in movies that involve online dating in the plot. These plots usually involve catfishing and other ways that going on a date with someone you met online could go wrong. 

Stories about happy couples who met through Tinder still make their rounds on the internet and social media, but they do so a lot less often. The video below is an example of this. This couple met on Tinder and spent 3 years messaging each other. Their names are Josh and Michelle. Good Morning America had them meet each other on air. They had their first date in Hawaii, courtesy of Good Morning American. Their first date was filmed and shown on air. There don’t seem to be any updates on what happened between Josh and Michelle after their first date was aired on Good Morning America.

Another way that Tinder is represented to the general public is as an app that can be used for hookups. Online dating apps make looking for hookups easy because you can easily find someone you don’t know if you are not looking for a serious romantic relationship. This can create conflict between users, especially if one or both users don’t communicate about what they are looking for. This conflict can contribute to the number of bad dates or experiences that people have on or because of the app.  

Overall, the majority of the media surrounding Tinder is not positive. This makes it a little difficult to understand how Tinder is so popular considering all the negativity that surrounds it. Perhaps its users are hoping that they will be the next lucky person to find a good partner through the app despite how bleak the results may seem. Another possibility is that the number of bad dates that are actually happening is much less than it seems. Listening to a story about a bad date is usually more entertaining than listening to a story about a date that went well.  


Tinder founders Sean Rad (left) and Justin Mateen (right). Image from Time article in Works Cited.

Rad and Mateen met in freshman year college. They both went to the University of Southern California. When Sean Rad and Justin Mateen first created Tinder, they had just given up their individual side businesses to partner up. The third Tinder founder, Johnathan Badeen, joined in March of 2012. Tinder was created at a Hackathon. Originally, the design for Tinder was created for IOS, but a version for Android was created later. The app quickly reached 1 million matches in 2013, and the app has continued to show great success throughout the years (Stampler, 2014).  

Rad and Mateen were aware that getting college students on board would lead the app to more success. Luckily, they were able to do so. In the beginning, 90% of Tinder users were aged 18-24. Now, users of ages 18-24 still make up the biggest percentage of users, which is 35% (Business of Apps, 2021).  

When talking about their marketing strategy, Mateen said “We knew that if it were to resonate with college kids who were already in a very socially charged environment, that other people would find value in the product as well.” Fortunately, the strategy worked (Stampler, 2014). 

Tinder released its subscription service in 2015. Today, Tinder has 3 levels of subscriptions available for users.  


Tinder is a highly regulated app for users who don’t pay for subscriptions. The main feature is the swiping feature. It allows users to swipe left to dislike someone’s profile or swipe right to like someone’s profile picture. If both users swipe right, it creates a match. If the free version of Tinder is being used, users cannot see who likes their profile unless a match is created. Users can see another user’s name, age, and a short bio. Sexuality and gender are optional for users to put on their profiles. To even create an account, you have to provide and verify your phone number and email address. In 2016, Tinder added a feature that allows users to connect their Tinder profile to their Instagram and Spotify accounts.   

A lot of the regulations in place change when users pay for a subscription to Tinder. There are three different subscriptions available: Tinder+, Tinder Gold, and Tinder Platinum. It costs $4.99 for one month of Tinder+. Users who have Tinder+ have access to unlimited likes, unlimited rewinds, hidden advertisements, and passports to any location. Rewinds can be used to undo your last like. Passport to any location allows users to place themselves anywhere in the world and begin swiping.  This feature allows users to potentially match with anyone around the world. 

Tinder Gold costs $14.99 for one month. Users who have Tinder Gold have access to everything from Tinder+, see who likes your profile, 5 super likes a week, and more. The ability to see who likes your profile gets rid of the regulation that the free users have to deal with. Super likes give users the opportunity to show another user that they really like their profile. The other user will see a bright blue border and a star on your profile if you super like them.  

Tinder Platinum costs $19.99 for one month. Users who have Tinder Platinum have access to everything from Tinder Gold, messages before matching, see likes you’ve sent in the past 7 days, and more. Usually, because of the way the swiping feature works users are not allowed to message each other until you both match.  

A screenshot from the Tinder website which includes details about the subscriptions.

For a while, Tinder charged users 30 and older more to subscribe. Due to this, there was a lawsuit filed for age discrimination. The class-action lawsuit was settled in 2019. Tinder defended themselves by claiming that the price difference was similar to the way that Spotify provides student discounts. Despite their attempts, Tinder had to pay $11.5 million in compensation to class members (Lee, 2019).  

While Tinder has a lot of regulations in place for users who use the app for free, the vast majority of those regulations do not exist for those who pay for a subscription, especially for those who pay for Tinder Platinum.  


Tinder is one of the most popular dating apps among its competitors, but who uses Tinder and how do they do so? 

The people who use Tinder the most are ages 18-24 and makeup 35% of the app’s users. Users ages 25-34 make up 25% of the app’s users. Most of the users who use Tinder are men (75%), with women only making up 24% of users. There was no data on people of other genders even though Tinder allows the option for users to select a gender other than the options of woman and man (Business of Apps, 2021). 

In 2020, there were 6.2 million users who subscribed to Tinder. When the subscription service launched in 2015, and at the time, Tinder only had 0.3 million subscribers (Business of Apps 2021).  

Most Tinder users use the free version as there are 75 million Tinder users monthly. Tinder users log into the app an average of four times a day. This means that Tinder users are frequent users of the app considering that they log in more than once a day. Approximately 1.5 million users of Tinder go on dates every week. This data gives us a lot of insight into how most users of Tinder interact with the app (Business of Apps, 2021).  

Considering how popular Tinder still is, it is clear that the founders were successful with their marketing strategy. For the most part, Tinder is being used by consumers in the way that was intended by the creators of the app.  


By analyzing Tinder through the circuit of culture, we were able to see the way each aspect of the circuit of culture is interconnected and how it contributes to the way Tinder exists among social media apps and the internet. In the identity section, we covered the way Tinder’s most well-known feature contributes to its identity. In the representation section, we covered the way Tinder is covered in the media and how a lot of it is negative and about bad dates. In the production section, we covered some details about how Tinder was created and what their marketing strategy was. In the regulation section, we covered the way there are varying degrees of regulation depending on whether you subscribe to Tinder or not. In the consumption section, we cover the demographics of the people who use Tinder the most frequently and we cover the way that those users interact with the app.  

Tinder is an app that encourages people to look for romantic relationships in a society in which is already very concerned with romantic relationships. Not only has Tinder contributed to the way people look for romantic relationships, but another way that Tinder has affected culture is that it has contributed to hookup culture. Tinder provides an easy way to quickly meet other people whether you are looking for something serious or not. Each aspect of the circuit of culture contributes to the role Tinder plays in culture. 

Works Cited