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Users on dating apps want to swipe right on vaccinated daters. Forget pictures. Show them your vaccine certificate | #tinder | #pof | romancescams | #scams


What is your idea of an ideal first date? Martinis at a beach bar? Dinner and a movie? Game night?

Well, for some who just met their partners on dating apps, it is heading to the nearest vaccination centre and getting a jab together. #jabwemet.

With new variants of COVID-19 rearing their ugly heads, an increasing number of people are opting for the vaccine. And, they want to ensure potential dates are vaccinated too. Now, dating apps are adding features that educate users, busting myths and allaying fears.

Popular sites like Tinder, Ok Cupid and Woo allow users to display a badge (usually an image of a syringe or plaster) to state they are vaccinated. It does not matter if they have received just one shot or both.

This is a trend world over. In the US, a couple of months ago, the White House reportedly tied up with dating apps to promote vaccination. Apps jumped right into action, throwing in offers including free access to premium features such as ‘super likes’ and ‘boosts’ for “vaxxed” users.

Last November, when vaccines were on the verge of being launched, OK Cupid, a dating app that been in India since 2018 and has over a million members, introduced a set of questions to gauge the mood of users.

“Back then, a lot of them said they were not entirely sure if they would opt for it,” says Sitara Menon, senior marketing manager, OK Cupid. She adds that, since then answers have changed to yes, with a substantial number opining that a non-vaccinated person is a deal breaker.

Users on dating apps want to swipe right on vaccinated daters. Forget pictures. Show them your vaccine certificate

The pandemic has led to a change in conversation patterns.

New features, including stickers, are conversation starters, says Papri Dev, senior director, APAC communications, Tinder. She adds, “In May 2021 we noticed the reference to vaccines in bios went up by 42 times in members’ profiles,” she says. Sample this: ‘Will you hold my hand while I take my vaccine?’ Or, ‘Let’s get the COVID Vaccine together ;)’.

When the pandemic began, the team at OK Cupid noticed the word COVID came up a lot in users’ self summaries on the app.

Following that, over the last three months, ‘vaccination’ became the most used term. There has been a 763% increase in the mention of the word vaccine in bios,” says Sitara. She adds that Indians users now want to know if potential partners are vaccinated or want to get vaccinated. Badges on profiles help the others know if the person has taken their jab or not. “People who believe in vaccines, or got theirs, get 25% more matches,” she adds.

In a survey conducted in the major metros in the country, Woo, a home-grown dating app with more than 12 million users worldwide, found that 70% of its audience wants to meet people who are vaccinated.

“The survey was based on answers given by 10,000 people in the 24-35 age group, says Ritesh Bhatnagar, chief marketing officer-WOO. “That’s why we decided to go on this route and incorporate vaccine-related features like badges on our app last week.”

Tinder launched what they call a ‘vaccine centre’ last week, on the app. This is an educational resource with quizzes and questions, and we have a link to CoWin,” says Papri. OK Cupid and Bumble have similar features, with explainers and answers from science and healthcare officials.

Tinder has partnered with India Vaccine Project. “Through this partnership, our aim is to offer opportunities to our user base to volunteer and help verify information about COVID Vaccine Centers (CVCs) in India,” says Papri. Members with relevant skill sets can join the project’s tech team or choose from opportunities on indiavaccine.in, helping with creating content, verifying vaccine stocks and reducing vaccine hesitancy, among others.

The trust factor

Users on dating apps want to swipe right on vaccinated daters. Forget pictures. Show them your vaccine certificate

“There is a lot of data being shared about the vaccine between users,” says Rahul Namdev, co-founder of Betterhalf.ai, an Artificial Intelligence-driven Indian matrimonial app. While he believes adding badges is a good idea, he says his app has taken a different approach: “We send a lot of notifications, emails and pop up messages to drive awareness.” Rahul says around 40%-50% of his users are vaccinated.

He has noticed that women are adamant not to talk to people who do not believe in vaccines. “If a guy says he will be taking his vaccine maybe after three months, then that conversation is not going anywhere,” says Rahul. Sitara agrees that women are a lot more particular. “At this point, on our app, 69% of men and 71% women are vaccinated and sporting badges,” she says.

Users on dating apps want to swipe right on vaccinated daters. Forget pictures. Show them your vaccine certificate

A word of caution: Although users are putting up their vaccine status, the apps are operating on trust alone, and not asking for evidence right now. Woo offers a feature where users can upload their vaccine certificates, but it is not mandatory as they contain personal information that users may not want to share. Nevertheless, out of 19% of its vaccinated users, 50% have so far uploaded their certificates.

On Betterhalf.ai, the team keeps reminding the users to take necessary precautions if they are meeting other daters. Says Rahul, “We are encouraging them to request other users to show their vaccination certificate, that way they can be sure and, hopefully, safe.”

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