January 25, 2024

Tinder Breaks Up with Belarus


Tinder Breaks Up with Belarus
The Tinder app open on a phone. Focal Foto, Flickr.

On January 16, the American company Match Group took Belarus by surprise when it announced that its dating apps Tinder, Hinge, and OkCupid will exit the country on February 15, the day after Valentine's Day.

Tinder notified its users that, "As of February 15, if you’re located in Belarus, you won’t be able to use Tinder services or sign into your account." The app suggests that Belarussian love-seekers delete their accounts. Subscriptions that expire before Valentine's Day will not be renewable. Bachelors and bachelorettes will be eligible for a refund if their plans extend past February 15. Tinder encouraged its customers to use purchased features before the app departs, especially "Super Likes," which tells a potential match that a user is very interested in them.

Tinder did not say why it is leaving Belarus. Cultural expert and editor of Belarussian Yearbook Vadim Mozheyko told Deutsche Welle (DW) that operating in a "problematic region" is risky for the dating app's reputation. In addition, issues with payments, due to sanctions on Belarussian banks by the US, may have contributed to the decision to leave. Another red flag for Tinder was how Belarus's security forces has used the app to dig up dirt on its citizens and open criminal cases. 

In February 2023, Alexandra Rybchik was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for a picture of her at a protest found on her Tinder profile. Another man was fined for featuring a picture of the Lithuanian Pahonya emblem. "I don't think Tinder wants to see in the news that someone was arrested for a picture in their service," Mozheyko said, "and it is not entirely clear how the company should act correctly in this case: should they cooperate with authorities, human rights activists? In this case, it is easier to just walk away from the market."

So, how will Belarussians find love now? 

DW spoke to Belarussian Tinder users to get their reactions. Inessa, 27, recently found love on Tinder. She said she did not particularly care about Tinder leaving, but was hopeful local alternatives would soon emerge.

A 33-year-old man from Minsk disagreed. He was upset by Tinder's decision, because the platform made it easy for him to meet girls. But he saw a silver lining: "I saw that Russian celebrities were advertising some new application, just in time." Russian dating apps, such as Mamba, Tabor, and the Ukrainian-founded Pure, are popular in Belarus. But, if not, there's always good-old-fashioned real life.

Tinder and its sister apps left the Russian market on June 30, 2023.

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