The Brazilian government has launched an AIDS awareness campaign using fake Tinder profiles, but Tinder isn't very happy about it.
Earlier this week, Brazil's health ministry announced that it had created fake profiles on dating apps Tinder and Hornet, which is popular in the gay community. The profiles feature attractive men and women who claim to be seeking casual, condom-free sex. One profile, under the pseudonym Alana, claims to be "looking for men and women for no-strings attached sex, preferably no condoms?" But after swiping right and matching, users would be greeted with a very different direct message: "Attention, it is difficult to know who is an AIDS carrier. Enjoy yourself — but take care. This is a campaign by the ministry of health."
The campaign was launched ahead of Brazil's famously wild Carnival, which begins Friday. It also comes amid worrying HIV trends among young and gay Brazilians. Late last year, the Brazilian health ministry announced that over the past decade, infection rates have risen by 33 percent among people aged 15-24, despite a massive government effort to distribute free antiretroviral drugs.
For this week's campaign, the health ministry created five profiles — three men and two women. Pilot programs carried out at bars and nightclubs late last month resulted in more than 2,000 interactions with the public, according to a post published to the government's blog Monday.
"All sexually active people are vulnerable."
"Today we cannot talk about at-risk groups," Health Minister Arthur Chioro said in announcing the initiative this week. "All sexually active people are vulnerable. Hence the importance of using condoms and testing "
Chioro added that the government plans to extend the campaign to other festivals outside of Carnival, but their efforts appear to have been thwarted by Tinder. Yesterday, Rosette Pambakian, Tinder's VP of corporate communications and branding, informed the ministry via Twitter that the profiles would be removed, citing violations of the company's terms of service.
.@minsaude we are deleting the profiles as they violate our terms of service. You are not authorized to advertise on Tinder.— Rosette Pambakian (@RosetteP) February 10, 2015
French daily Le Figaro reports that the health ministry has contested Tinder's move, arguing that the campaign wasn't commercial and therefore shouldn't be classified as advertising. Hornet's terms of service also forbids users from impersonating "any person or entity" as well as advertising, but company spokesman Armand du Plessis tells The Verge that it will make an exception for this campaign and not shut down the profiles. Du Plessis adds that Hornet wants to work with the government on improving the campaign, which he describes as a "great initiative." Tinder did not immediately responded to a request for comment.
This isn't the first time that advocacy groups have used Tinder and other mobile dating apps to raise awareness. In November, an Irish advertising agency created fake profiles to raise awareness about sex trafficking; and early last year, an Israeli ad agency launched a somewhat controversial campaign called the Tinder AIDS Project to promote safe sex.