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Love at first swipe

1 July, 2021

As we emerge from lockdown, many singles are readier than ever to mingle. In line with recent trends, they are increasingly doing so via dating apps.  

But unfortunately for those searching for love, dating apps’ algorithms aren’t great at finding it. And by drawing on and reinforcing biases, algorithms can marginalise users from racial or sexual minority groups. Unsurprisingly, the use of dating apps has therefore been linked to social anxiety and depression. 

Despite all this, love perseveres. Dating apps continue to account for a rising share of the way that couples meet. And there is growing evidence that this is changing the nature of society, from the encouraging (an increase in interracial marriages) to the alarming (the rise of class-based dating apps).  

With the growing influence that dating apps have on our lives and relationships, the apps themselves have a role to play in understanding and accounting for their impact on users. There are some examples of platforms taking action, such as Bumble’s ‘Snooze’ mode, Tinder’s offer of free therapy for users in India, and Grindr’s removal of ethnicity filters from its dating apps. But with digital connections set to be a mainstay of the post-pandemic world, more is needed.  

And for those who aren’t quite ready to close that distance, be it physical or emotional? With everyone’s favourite romantic romp, Love Island, returning to screens this week, you can get all the romance you need without a single swipe.

By Louise Podmore

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