Swiping left, or swiping right. That’s how dating apps work these days, and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t dabbled in the trend.
Like Nichole Magoon of South Burlington.
“I’ve always been active on social media, so that’s kind of how a lot of people know me in the area,” says Magoon, who’s a marketing strategist and part-time comedian in Vermont. “I have been on a couple of different dating apps, and I’ve been on Tinder for a couple years now.”
Little did she know, however, that a vacation to California would turn into a dating-app disaster.
“A friend picked me up, we went out and had some drinks and some lunch. I opened my account just to show it to her and within a couple hours, I got a notification that I was banned,” Magoon says.
Tinder shut down Magoon’s account permanently after a user in the Bay area reported her account. He says a picture of her in hunting gear with a deer she harvested doesn’t belong on a public dating site.
“My family is really big into hunting. I’ve hunted since I was nine. It’s something I do as a hobby so I put that picture up,” says Magoon.
Not only that, but the offended user sent an email to her place of employment in Vermont, reading:
“Really is this the best a marketing strategist can do to find love online? (expletive). No wonder why she’s on Tinder…not illegal, but classless for sure.”
Nichole was able to trace the email address to the user’s Facebook profile. Local 22’s Megan Carpenter reached out to him via email and he provided her a statement that says, in part:
“While my personal feelings of hunting fall on one side of the issue, my main complaint being that it just doesn’t belong on a public dating site and all I did was report it toTinder as inappropriate. That’s got to be considered a bad move as you are now not just representing yourself, but also your Company as well and thus the reason I felt prudent to let the Company know.”
Nichole says what bothers her the most, however, is Tinder’s response.
Local 22’s Megan Carpenter obtained emails between Nichole and Tinder staff. In them, Nichole asks repeatedly how she violated Tinder’s Terms of Service.
“They responded back saying I violated their terms of service and their community guidelines and don’t have an appeals process, so I was permanently banned,” says Nichole. “I turned to social media and sent them a tweet saying, ‘Hey Tinder I’m banned can someone explain this to me.’ I had actually done a Google search of men with deer on Tinder and I got examples of profiles that came up so I sent that to them along with the tweet.”
The same day Carpenter spoke with a Tinder PR representative, Tinder staff sent Nichole an email, letting her know her account had been unblocked.
“What it seems like they’re doing is shutting things down first and asking questions later,” says Dr. Elaine Young, Professor of Digital and Social Media Marketing at Champlain College.
Young says this knee-jerk reaction from major social media companies is becoming the norm.
“The Terms of Service might say ‘offensive content might be taken down’ and if the Terms of Service say ‘offensive content’, then what’s offensive to you isn’t what’s offensive to me,” says Young. “A lot of experts in the space are starting to talk about this more and more, the big go-to for everything doesn’t really work…you can have all sorts of stuff that you have to actually mediate with human eyes, but the question is are [these platforms] doing that?”
Nichole’s message to dating app companies and those who use them is simple.
“The whole point of these dating apps is to showcase who you are and [hunting] is a core identity for me,” she says.
Tinder provided Local 22’s Megan Carpenter with the following statement:
“We are committed to maintaining a positive ecosystem and take any reports of behavior that is contrary to our Terms of Service or Community Guidelines very seriously. We have a team dedicated to investigating each report. The account in question had been reported multiple times. The matter has been resolved and they can now use Tinder.”