Do dating apps have a prostitution problem?


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Fake sex workers are everywhere on Tinder, according to a new report by the security firm Symantec.

What the report doesn’t mention: Real sex workers aren’t unheard of on dating sites, either.

The Symantec report, which came out Tuesday, documented a number of scams that many Tinder users have probably swiped-left by before: enticements to chat on sketchy platforms with names like “Slut Roulette,” provocative photos promising dirty acronyms for cash, short-URL advertisements for webcam sites and services that cost absurd amounts of money. In most cases, Symantec reports, the hoax is a simple one: When users click through to say, blamcams.com, and then sign up for an overpriced membership, blamcams pays the spammer a kind of head-hunting fee.

But what about when it’s not spam?

“My brother who works in Manhattan was matched with a fellow New Yorker and chatted with her for a few days when she asked to meet up with him,” Katherine Wolfgang wrote about Tinder in Elon University’s student newspaper last year. “Within ten minutes of the date she mentioned her going rate, and my brother realized that he was on a date with a prostitute.”

That echoes a personal essay the Australian writer Al Kalyck wrote last March: “This one time I met up with a prostitute on Tinder,” he begins. He and his date, “Victoria,” hung out around her house for a while before she had to go to work. “I begged her to let me come in and sit in the corner and watch the process,” Kalyck wrote, “but she told me I’d have to pay.”

In a statement to The Post, Tinder said it actively polices both spam and illegal activity on the app — and that a major technical update the company rolled out last week should help cut spam down. But the service declined to say how many real users it had deleted on suspicion of prostitution. One Tinder user in Brooklyn recently told me he sees profiles advertising sexual services frequently — he estimated one out of every 30 or 40 swipes.


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