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Swiping right on a celebrity on Tinder? It's probably an advertisement

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Expanding your dating pool is the entire premise behind Tinder, so if you’re meeting an average Joe or Jane who you might not have found in your own social circles, it’s conceivable that you could meet a celebrity on the dating app too, right? Sort of. In various Tinder ads, eager users have found that they matched with “verified” celebrities, only to learn that their right swipe led to a prompt to see a film or other project, but not the possibility of a date. It first started happening two years ago when Tinder created a card for Mindy Lahiri, Mindy Kaling’s character from “The Mindy Project.” But now, things may be getting a bit out of hand.

As Tinder has continued to create Tinder profiles for celebrities, it has also continued to blur the line between advertisement (or fiction) and reality. One example is “Ava,” the profile of an attractive female (featuring photos of Alicia Vikander) on Tinder who would actually engage with her matches, asking them questions and participating in conversation. But soon thereafter, “she” would reveal herself as an ad for “Ex Machina,” the 2015 film that went on to win an Academy Award. Adweek called the profile “pretty invasive, and some will call it spammy. If you think about it, it’s only a step above porn bots.”

So now, Tinder is trying to make things a bit more obvious. “If a user matches with a branded profile card, it’s clear [that it’s an ad] based on the promotional message sent to them after they swipe right,” Tinder tells Yahoo Finance. “In the case of ‘Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,’ the primary profile photo is also marked with the movie logo.”

The problem is that that’s not actually true for all branded profiles, and Tinder does use the same blue check mark for ads as it does for real celebrities (who, after all, may indeed be on Tinder). Last year, the dating app rolled out verified profiles for “notable public figures, celebrities, and athletes,” but it won’t say how many (if any) of these famous folks are actually swiping.

Ultimately, Tinder doesn’t seem to have any plans to change course — after all, its ads are how the app makes money (other than its paid premium service, which is also doing quite well with over a million people now swiping plastic to swipe left or right). So if you happen to come across a celebrity, don’t get too excited too fast. It may be the gal or guy of your dreams, or just a dream advertisement.

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