As the B&T editorial staff attest, sexual health is no laughing matter. In this opinion piece co-founder of Stigma Health James Sneddon grinds his axe about Tinder’s advertising choices.
Sexual health. I know it’s not the usual topic you see in B&T but hey, it’s 2023, it’s World Sexual Health Day, we’re body positive, into sex positivity, inclusivity and watching influencers promote their favourite vibrator on Instagram. You’re probably working on a brief right now in the category.
We’ve come a long way, baby. Or have we?
As co-founder of Stigma Health I have been in the business of sexual health since 2016, with over 30,000 patients and counting. As Australia’s largest sexual health clinic group, we know a lot about Aussie sex lives and the associated myths and misconceptions.
I think we’ve all become accustomed to the fact that social platforms control a lot of what we see but when they start playing hide and seek with the sexual health of Australians by censoring important community marketing messages, I get a little pissed off.
We approached Tinder to run some ads for our online STI Tests. Why? Because whether you’re on dating apps looking for love or a ONS, sex will most likely be involved.
Putting my PSA hat on for a minute, every time you have a new relationship or sexual partner, you should get an STI Test!
The traditional process of STI testing makes the process daunting and awkward – fronting up to a doctor is a massive turn-off. So much so that many people opt-out. This sweep-it-under-the-rug approach is endangering our private bits, and our health. In fact, the most recent data* shows 1 in 25 people aged 15-29 had chlamydia in 2021, but less than one third received a diagnosis. And did you know there are an estimated 2,630 Australians unknowingly living with HIV^.
They’re some pretty serious stats that we want to help turn around.
Our solution is a virtual service that skips face-to-face conversations and a bulk-bill option that removes cost as an issue. Test results are then delivered to your phone via an app within a couple of days. We’re smashing barriers to accessible healthcare and biases around sexual health and this is a great story to tell!
So, what did Tinder say about our desire to promote STI tests on their platform? They swiped LEFT.
Their reason? Advertising sexual health checks reinforces the stigma of Tinder being a hook-up platform.
And yes, they are making huge assumptions that only people who are regularly hooking up are at risk of STI acquisition. Their recent brand positioning work was all about re-framing modern dating so they can’t just consciously uncouple from sexual health being a big part of this conversation.
Our heads are spinning, but maybe you read this as part of the industry and aren’t surprised given the
power social platforms hold?
Sexual health is one of Australia’s biggest health concerns and is part of sexual wellbeing, overall health and also affects mental health.
By refusing to acknowledge the realities of sexually transmitted infections and the need for education and regular testing to keep people safe and healthy, I believe strongly that Tinder fails their duty of care to protect its community, members and app users.
This kind of attitude stigmatises sexual health as a taboo topic rather than an important health issue that deserves attention, resources, and solutions-based approaches as much as any other.
Given the rise of non-traditional relationship models like ENM and poly (seen often on Tinder profiles) – there’s more reason than ever for people in committed relationships, whatever their parameters, to embrace sexual health testing.
We can’t help but wonder about the ethics of promoting people coming together, without educating
them to do it safely.
STI testing is vital to identify infection, treat, and stop the spread. We’d be interested in seeing the number of STI infections coming from Tinder matches, but that kind of data doesn’t exist. It seems Tinder is not sex-positive, and they might be a little bit ashamed about their reputation in facilitating S-E-X meetups, casual lovers or new fuck buddies.
Shout out to our friends at Grindr who are way more progressive and run our ads to help promote sexual
We’re advocating for all dating apps to stop perpetuating antiquated views on sex and STIs and get with the times by reminding their communities to stay healthy, protect themselves and each other.
Spread love, not STIs – even on Tinder.
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