A new STD testing billboard campaign by Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has outraged dating apps Tindr and Grindr, and now they are demanding that their names be removed from the ad.
According to The Guardian, the billboard shows two couples staring into each other’s eyes. On each face appears one word. The first couple reads “Tinder, Chlamydia,” while the second reads “Grindr, Gonorrhea.” Both companies are obviously upset and are seeking the removal of their names from the billboard.
Tinder sent a letter to the organization saying the billboard made “false and disparaging statements against Tinder.” Grinder has also halted the foundation’s paid advertising for its free STD testing services on their site.
“We were surprised at the approach [the foundation] took, and paused the campaign in order to speak with them and assess our relationship,” Grindr said about cutting the ads.
— Boing Boing (@BoingBoing) September 28, 2015
“These unprovoked and wholly unsubstantiated accusations are made to irreparably damage Tinder’s reputation in an attempt to encourage others to take an HIV test offered by your organization,” the letter reads in part. “While Tinder strongly supports such testing, the billboard’s statements are not founded upon any scientific evidence, and are incapable of withstanding critical analysis. The above false accusations therefore constitute, among other things, false advertising, unfair competition and dilution by tarnishment under federal and common law.”
Despite Tindr and Grindr’s outrage, AHF says the billboard is there to simply raise awareness about the increasing STD rate and to encourage dating-app users to get regular screenings or a “free STD check.”
“In many ways, location-based mobile dating apps are becoming a digital bathhouse for millennials, wherein the next sexual encounter can literally just be a few feet away—as well as the next STD,” Whitney Engeran-Cordova, the foundation’s public health division director, said in a statement, according to the Los Angeles Times.“While these sexual encounters are often intentionally brief or even anonymous, sexually transmitted diseases can have lasting effects on an individual’s personal health and can certainly create epidemics in communities at large.”
“They’re tone deaf,” Michael Weinstein, president of AHF, said. “It would have been much wiser for them to say that they’re concerned about their customers and look forward to working with us to help people get the checkups that they need. This would not have been the global story that it has become if they had not responded that way.”
Currently there are 12 billboards up in Los Angeles, with one only a few blocks from Tinder’s Beverly Boulevard headquarters, and 45 bus bench ads. The AHF is hoping to expand the campaign to New York and South Florida.
The foundation quickly responded to Tinder’s letter, saying that they would not be taking down the billboards, and they had “not made any false or disparaging statements against Tinder.” The foundation referenced a Vanity Fair article titled “Tinder and the Dawn of the “Dating Apocalypse,” which showed the dating apps were “encouraging casual sex among young adults,” attributing to a boom in casual hookups.
AHF also referenced a report released by the Rhode Island Department of Health in May that said there had been a significant rise in STDs such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV between 2013 and 2014. The report states that this was due to “high-risk behaviors include using social media to arrange casual and often anonymous sexual encounters, having sex without a condom, having multiple sex partners, and having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
[Photo via Twitter]