In a flurry of replies to a Vanity Fair article criticising Tinder and the growth in online dating, the company’s Twitter account said the author should talk to “our many users in China and North Korea who find a way to meet people on Tinder even though Facebook is banned.”
Even though the admin of the Tinder account seems to have missed the point of the Vanity Fair article, it does raise the question of how many Tinder users are located in China and North Korea.
China and North Korea have both banned Facebook. It is a requirement on Tinder to sign-in with a Facebook account, making it seem unlikely that Tinder has any meaningful users in the two aforementioned countries.
Taking a quick look at the three main app stores in China: Baidu, Tencent and Qihoo 360, Tinder has 70,000 downloads. There is no active monthly users measure, but considering the negative reviews, it seems likely nobody is using the app in China.
A Chinese user would need a VPN to create a Facebook account and continue to use that VPN every time they login to Tinder. It seems like an annoying workaround when there are plenty of other local dating apps, which have no Facebook sign-up requirements.
In North Korea, the situation is even worse. Citizens are not allowed to own mobile devices with an Internet connection. Even if someone managed to buy a mobile device, which would be costly considering the average monthly paycheck is under £50, it would be a rather lonely experience being one of the few within 100 miles to have Tinder.
North Korea also has its own Intranet outside of the main Internet. The only networking options inside North Korea would be for the Intranet.
Even though some high-up North Koreans may be able to smuggle a smartphone or computer into the country, it is highly unlikely a social dating app that requires hundreds of people to be usable will be their first go to service.
When asked for clarification, a Tinder spokeswoman seemed to stand by the comments. She did not say how many users were online in countries where Facebook was unavailable.
Outside of the North Korea/China argument, Tinder made some other points about how it is successfully changing the stigma surrounding LGBT in countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Even though Tinder can surely be accounted as a factor for more of these relationships happening, this is also a social movement happening across the Middle East. It is quite unlikely Tinder is the root cause of this movement.