News & Events

Dating Apps Hit with False Advertising Class Action Lawsuit

Posted on February 14, 2024

By Brian MacLeod

A proposed class action was filed in California Federal Court on February 14, alleging that Match Group, owner of dating apps such as Tinder and Hinge, designs its apps to prioritize profits over marketing promises by getting users stuck in a “pay-to-play” loop.

The suit states that while Match claims to be creating tools for establishing off-app relationships, they are in reality doing whatever they can to keep users paying for their apps. The complaint, which was filed by a group of consumers led by Burak Oksayan and Jack Kessler, claims that it breaks false advertising and consumer protection laws.

For instance, the consumers call Hinge’s motto, “designed to be deleted” false advertising, stating that “Match intentionally designs the platforms with addictive, game-like design features, which lock users into a perpetual pay-to-play loop that prioritizes corporate profits over its marketing promises and customers’ relationship goals.” They add that the apps attempt to turn users into addicts that will look to buy more “premium” and expensive subscriptions.

The suit says that 98% of Match Group’s revenue comes from their ability to get non-paying users to subscribe or make in-app purchases. The consumers claim that the products are set up in a way that pressures users into subscribing by rewarding them with the ability to bypass limits on “likes” and by pushing their profile to be favored by the app’s algorithm. They add that features like push notifications are also used to manipulate users’ dopamine and turn them into gamblers that will spend money in the apps to gain psychological rewards.

A spokesperson for Match Group claims that there is no merit to the lawsuit, stating that “our business model is not based on advertising or engagement metrics. We actively strive to get people on dates every day and off our apps. Anyone who states anything else doesn’t understand the purpose and mission of our entire industry.”

The plaintiffs are looking to represent a nationwide class of people that have bought one or more subscriptions from Match platforms during the last four years, along with classes from individual states including California, Florida, Georgia, and New York. They claim Match violated a number of laws including California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, False Advertising Law and Unfair Competition Law, and New York’s General Business Law. They are seeking damages, restitution, attorney fees, litigation costs, and other reliefs.

The case is Burak Oksayan et al. v. Match Group Inc., case number 3:24-cv-00888, in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. The complaint can be found here.