Daily Management Review

US authorities accuse owner of Tinder of imposing paid services


The US Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against Match Group, which owns a number of dating services, including Tinder. The regulator is accusing the company of using fake accounts to encourage hundreds of thousands of users to purchase a paid subscription.

The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said that it had filed a lawsuit against Match Group, which owns the dating site of the same name, as well as about 40 other mobile apps for finding a partner, including Tinder, Pairs, Plenty of Fish and OkCupid. The company is accused of using fake accounts to encourage people to purchase a paid subscription on Match.com. In addition, the owner of dating services is accused of false promises, as well as intentionally complicating the procedure for canceling a paid subscription.

Unlike Tinder, Match.com users who do not have a paid subscription can only create their own profile, view other people's profiles, and mark what they like. However, it is no longer possible to send messages to other users or answer them with a free version of the account.

The FTC lawsuit filed with the Dallas District Court notes that between 2013 and mid-2018, at least 25-30% of Match.com accounts were either fake or fraudulent.

Those who use Match.com for free receive a notification that someone is interested in communicating with them. At the same time, the message text is not available until the person acquires a paid subscription. At this moment, they receives an advertisement from the company that encourages them to buy a paid account.

“Users often don’t know that the messages received on Match.com are not from other users interested in starting a relationship, but from people trying to crank out a fraudulent scheme. For example, in some months of the period from 2013 to 2016, more than half of the messages and “likes” came from accounts that the respondent marked as “falsified,” the lawsuit says.

Thus, according to authorities, the company knew about the existence of fake and fraudulent accounts, but instead of warning decent users, they encouraged them to purchase a paid subscription.

Only after purchasing a paid subscription, people could find out that the sender’s account is “no longer available”, because the service blocked it. In response to complaints, the company sent same notifications to all users that "it respects its users too much to abuse their trust." As a result, hundreds of thousands of people were affected by such actions of the service, the FTC lawsuit said.

Match Group itself called the FTC claims "outrageous." The company noted that it deletes 96% of fake accounts within a day from the moment of their registration. Nevertheless, investors have already reacted extremely negatively to the claims of the regulator, and the company's shares sank by 8.5%.

source: columbian.com