Middle-aged straight men probably aren’t the first demographic that comes to mind when talking matters of bias and discrimination. But according to a recent investigation, there may be at least one area in which mid-life straight guys get the short end of the stick: dating apps.
An investigation by Australian consumer advocacy group Choice found that Tinder is charging straight men over 50 more than any other group of users for its paid premium tier, Tinder Plus. While prices were found to vary significantly across age and location demographics, straight men over 50 were charged the highest rates, paying up to nearly five times more than some groups for premium access.
Choice’s investigation found the lowest Tinder Plus rates were offered to queer female users under 30, who paid just $6.99, compared to the $34.99 asked of city-dwelling straight men over 50. In general, the price tended to be lower for users under 30, who paid a monthly rate between $6.99 and $16.71, while those over 30 paid anywhere from $14.99 to $34.37.
As Vice noted, however, dynamic pricing that varies by personal information has been part of Tinder’s premium strategy since the paid tier was first introduced in 2015. Tinder co-founder Sean Rad even once defended the policy at a TechCrunch Disrupt conference, claiming the pricing variations were intended to provide a discount for younger users with less money to drop on premium plans.
“It’s not about necessarily optimizing for the dollars we bring in. It’s about optimizing for the number of people we can bring in,” Rad explained back in 2015. “If I live in an emerging country or somewhere with an emerging economy, I can’t afford to pay as much as someone who lives in the US. There are some things we have to consider.”
More recently, Tinder settled a $23 million class-action age discrimination lawsuit filed last year that alleged the platform charged users over 30 twice as much for premium subscription services.
But Choice’s investigation raises more concerns about what other personal data Tinder may using to make its pricing decisions.
“We know that Tinder is using age to set different prices. But even within age groups, we saw a range of prices, demonstrating that there are other factors at play that Tinder is yet to explain,” said Turner. “It is really concerning that we don’t know what information about us Tinder is using to determine these personalized prices.”
Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.