It should come as no surprise now that social media is playing a crucial and unprecedented role in the war that Russia is currently inflicting on Ukraine. Previously described as a “digital warwhich spread online with the help of the social media trend called “warcore videoit should be noted that not all of the new warfare tactics we have witnessed have been negative.
While Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram have all been banned in Russia, making citizens even more vulnerable to President Putin’s propaganda, the dating app Tinder still works normally. It’s a blind spot that the Russian government seems to have missed during the shutdown the access of its citizens to the rest of the world.
If you know anything about Tinder (don’t lie, I know you are), you’ve probably noticed its “Passport” feature. For £18 a month you can set your location anywhere in the world and match with people from wherever you decide to land. This opportunity has led many tech-savvy people to use the dating app to fight misinformation in Russia, help Ukrainians find refuge outside the country, and even troll Russian soldiers. Makes you want to go back to those few times you said you were done with Tinder, doesn’t it?
Tinder against Russian propaganda
As originally reported by the online magazine Unheard“A Slovak media agency has launched an initiative called Special Love Operation, which encourages Tinder users to bombard Russian singles with images of the war in Ukraine to show them what’s really going on.”
Led by Creative Director Alex Strimbeanu and his colleagues from the Slovakia-based marketing agency Jandlthe program was launched after it was reported that some Russian soldiers were contacting local Ukrainian women through dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble in February 2022.
Strimbeanu took to Tinder to spread this message: “Dear Russians, the West does not hate you. We hate war. We hate the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The Russian army is killing innocent people while Putin is lying and hiding the truth from you. Your brothers and sisters are dying because of the madness and delusion of a dictator. Spread the truth. Make love not war.”
From conversations he later had with Russians on the app, “it seems like they understand that war is not OK,” Strimbeanu said. Battery. From there, the agency began encouraging other users to do the same, advising people to change their profile picture to a selfie with a picture of a war-torn Ukrainian city (it provides 12 images) and to change their profile description to a paragraph in Cyrillic. , which reads: “Please don’t turn away, don’t close your eyes, innocent people like you and me are dying in Ukraine. They also wanted love, [to] live and get acquainted – now they sit in basements… lose loved ones and loved ones, freeze.
Tinder as a way to meaningfully connect with those on the ground in Ukraine
The dating app has also become one of the best ways to safely contact Ukrainians stranded on the ground. Many in the West, including the UK, are desperate to help Ukrainian citizens however they can. And for most people, that means offering sponsorship through the government program for refugees– which, let’s be honest, has descended into chaos since its initial announcement.
According to Engadgetsince the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “more than 2.5 million people fled the country, making it the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.
On Tinder, people in the UK wanting to sponsor a refugee can easily connect with someone in need of shelter, allowing them to have a “named Ukrainian” to introduce to the program. Once a visa application has been completed for them, sponsors must offer refugees a minimum stay of six months rent-free. In return, they will receive £350 per month.
Reporting on the recent influx of refugees on the dating app, The New York Times told the story of Anastasia Tischchenko. She and her friend Natalia Masechko used Tinder to share their story when they fled their Ivano-Frankivsk home.
“I think there are a lot of honest people out there, and some of them are on Tinder,” Tischchenko told the publication. After creating his profile, several people swiped right to offer help, including a man who put Tischchenko and Masechko in touch with “a friend of a friend of a friend” who found a monastery in which the two could sleep in Siret, Romania.
“It was very inspiring,” Tischchenko said. After their stay in Siret, she traveled to Poland while her friend Masechko remained in Romania to help the next wave of refugees.
Tinder to get in touch with Russian soldiers… and sometimes troll them
While some have used the dating app to simply connect with Russians and hear what they think (and know) about the war – UnHeard writer Zoe Strimpel has done so and found that opinions on the rationale for what Putin was doing were split – others reportedly leveled Tinder as a means of ‘deceive the soldiers‘.
At the start of the invasionreports of The sun describes a number of experiences where Ukrainian women suddenly saw their phones light up with automated Tinder matches from nearby Russian soldiers waiting across the border to invade. The surreal story told of Ukrainian women dealing with attractive Russian soldiers just miles a way.
At the time, video producer Dasha, 33, told The Sun she lived in Kyiv but changed her location settings to Kharkiv after a friend told her there were troops Russians everywhere on Tinder. “And I couldn’t believe my eyes when they popped up trying to look tough and cool,” she said. “One muscular guy posed trying to look sexy in bed by posing with his pistol. Another was in full Russian combat gear and others just showed up in tight striped vests.
Tinder as an unlikely weapon
This modern conflict has highlighted the role dating apps can play in such events – Tinder has gone beyond its core function in a space where other social media has been silenced. And as Strimpel wrote, “as long as it’s used with care, the app could prove to be one of many potent but non-violent weapons in this war.”