Nearly half of Tinder users are already with someone, says study

Technically Incorrect: A piece of research that damns humanity's fickle nature suggests that those on the popular hookup -- ahem, dating -- app aren't all they claim to be.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

As can a divorce. Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

We exist here to chronicle the parlous state of the human condition.

No, it's not technology's fault. Technology is merely hastening the inevitable, exposing the inner frailties of the earthly mind.

My evidence today is a study that was recently performed by market researcher GlobalWebIndex to analyze just who wafts around Tinder.

Should you be unfamiliar with this app, it's often referred to as the hookup app. This is rather unfair. It's really an app that allows you to think you can reject people with a wave of your regal finger. You're shown a photo of a potential partner, and you swipe right to like them (if they respond in kind you can message each other). Or you swipe left to pooh-pooh them. It's a power app for the picky.

But who are these picky? You will be stunned into giving all your wealth to your Starbucks barista when I tell you that 30 percent of Tinderers are married, and another 12 percent are -- to use that touchingly loose phrase so popularized by Facebook -- "in a relationship." At least according to this study, which examined 47,000 users all over the world.

One might conclude, therefore, that almost half the people on Tinder are untrustworthy beings, there to gain surreptitious pleasures with one swipe to the right.

Another statistic might affect your duodenum today. Men make up 62 percent of Tinderers. This would offer the sneaking conclusion that many of the 30 percent whole who are married are actually men looking for what is sometimes called "a good time" and what sometimes concludes with "a fight," "a stalker," a "call to the police" or -- the most common -- "a divorce."

Of course it could be that, given Tinder is free, some people use it just to window-shop -- or should that be screen-shop? -- dreaming of what might have been or what still could be.

I contacted Tinder to ask how it views these -- to the undressed eye -- sobering statistics. The company's vice-president of global communications and branding, Rosette Pambakian, told me: "The results of this tiny, 681 person study in the UK is a totally inaccurate depiction of Tinder's user-base. This firm is making guesses without having any access to real data on our millions of users worldwide."

So what is the truth? Or at least Tinder's truth? Pambakian said: "The single largest age group on Tinder, making up more than half of our entire user-base, is 18 to 24, and 93+ percent of them have never been married, according to the UK's Office of National Statistics."

Some might find this logic troubling, as national statistics don't necessarily represent the Tinder population at all.

Pambakian, however, believes GlobalWebIndex to be as unreliable as an online date who doesn't turn up. She said: "Their methodology seems severely and fundamentally flawed." As do some of the people you meet through Tinder, I am told.

Interestingly, 25 percent of those on Tinder are already paying for some sort of online dating service. Perhaps that's why the company introduced Tinder Plus. This twisted offering actually charges older people more.

I know that Tinder does sometimes work. My engineer friend George met a woman on Tinder in Istanbul. They concluded quickly that they were meant for each other. Yes, not just for that evening. They are now married.

Perhaps, though, one should accept that Tinder in general is no different from other dating sites, which are no different from real life.

You meet someone in a bar. They tell you lots of things about themselves. In modern parlance, this is called "sharing."

My own personal research estimate is that at least 42 percent of what they say contains more than a tinge of utter mendacity.

Update, 4:49 p.m. PT: Adds comment from Tinder.

(Via the Guardian)