News & Politics

A Dating App’s List of ‘Most Eligible Singles’ in America Looks Like a List of White People

This doesn't resemble the America we know.

Photo Credit: Business Insider/Hinge

For the past few years, Business Insider has partnered with popular dating app Hinge to publish a list of the “Most Eligible Singles" in major American cities. Sounds fun, right? But take a good look at this year’s list. You’ll notice a stunning lack of racial and ethnic diversity that seems to ignore the reality of the populations in the cities where these eligible singles live.

Take the New York list as an example. Hinge’s 10 most eligible singles in the city look like this:

Credit: Business Insider/Hinge

Seriously, Hinge? In a city where only 33 percent of residents are white, at least 26 percent are Hispanic, 26 percent are black and 13 percent are Asian, you’d think the list would include a bit more diversity. The list plainly doesn’t reflect the diversity of New York in terms of skin color and background.

There’s limited diversity in sexuality in this list as well. On the New York list, only one person says they’re interested in dating people of the same sex. Not a single person on the roster for San Francisco, a cultural mecca for the LGBTQ community, says they’re interested in a same-sex match.

A full scan of the “Most Eligible” lists for other American cities such as Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago, show similar diversity rates: there appear to be no more than one to three non-white people in each list of 10. The list for Atlanta, known to be a beacon of black cultural and political power where only one of the four metro area counties remains majority-white, includes not a single African American.

Credit: Business Insider/Hinge

It’s unclear whether Hinge assembled this list though curation or user-generated data. According to Business Insider spokesperson Mario Ruiz, “the source of the list is Hinge, which compiles its list based on the data they have about their users. Business Insider made no editorial decision about who should make the list. That said, we did review the list overall before we published it.” If Hinge staffers simply chose these names by selecting at will a list of attractive young people with interesting and well-paying jobs, it demonstrates a severe lack of judgment and understanding of the changing racial makeup of the country.

If the list was assembled by users—for example, if the 10 people selected in each city regularly receive the most right-swipes or DMs—that would certainly fit data showing dating app users tend to select light-skinned and white people more frequently. But it’s terrible marketing to showcase this so shamelessly, and Hinge should explain why they believed this list would be good for their brand image. It also reflects poorly on Business Insider for choosing to showcase the racially insensitive data. In an era in which our own president is trying to racially purge non-white people from the country, a list that looks so white-washed is unnecessary and counter to progress.

This isn’t the first time Hinge has come under controversy for its racist practices. Like some other dating apps, it allows users to choose which ethnic and racial groups are “deal breakers" for them, and will eliminate potential dates who identify as such from appearing on their feeds.

OKCupid found last year that its users were discriminating by race and ethnicity when swiping left or right. Male users in particular are more likely to select white and Asian women over black women. It’s not surprising that racial and ethnic groups have launched their own dating apps in response.

Hinge is like Tinder in that it feeds users potential dates through machine learning technology, pooling from a group of people who share your location and to whom you’re loosely connected to through mutual Facebook friends. Hinge doesn’t release regular user data, but there’s no denying its popularity. In 2015, spokeswoman Jean-Marie McGrath told Vox that the app was making 35,500 dates per week. "In our major markets, one in five of your friends is on Hinge," she said. Back then, Vox reported “the average user has about 50 Facebook friends on Hinge,” though the number may have grown in the years since.

Hinge didn’t respond to a request for comment on the “Most Eligible” list.

Liz Posner is a managing editor at AlterNet. Her work has appeared on Forbes.com, Bust, Bustle, Refinery29, and elsewhere. Follow her on Twitter at @elizpos.

 

 

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
[x]
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Activism
Drugs
Economy
Education
Election 2018
Environment
Food
Media
World