Recently, a TechCrunch article exposed the presence of an alternate version of the popular dating app Tinder, reserved for “elite users,” including “CEOs, super models, and other hyper-attractive/upwardly affluent types.” The secret mode contained in the app, called Tinder Select, operates on an invite-only basis; by some currently unknown method, the company chooses a small number of its users to be members of the high-status branch of the app. Although some members of Tinder Select have the option to “nominate” others to join the platform, Tinder Select remains secretive. Tinder Select has apparently been operating for six months, but the company has not publicly acknowledged its existence, apparently wishing to maintain the allure of a private and exclusive atmosphere, and to avoid alienating the vast majority of its users who are restricted to the standard version of the app.
Though the company has not disclosed the selection criteria for Tinder Select, it’s likely that they take into account their users’ ELO, the secret numerical rating system the company maintains to judge its users’ levels of desirability. According to Sean Rad, the CEO of Tinder, a user’s ELO is based not only on his or her physical attractiveness but on a variety of other factors that predict their probability of successful interactions with other users and a complex algorithm that took several months to develop. Users of Tinder are unable to view the ELO the company has generated for them, and it’s not clear exactly how the service uses ELO. But the fact that the company has devoted a substantial amount of time and energy into the ranking system indicates that keeping track of its users’ desirability is an important task.
Users who have access to Tinder Select have the option to toggle between standard Tinder and the more exclusive version within the app itself, and Tinder Select is differentiated within the app by its bluish color scheme, whereas the regular version has an orange color scheme. It’s not clear as of yet exactly what percentage of users are invited to join Tinder Select, but given the secretive nature of the feature, it’s likely that a very small fraction of Tinder’s overall user base are granted access. However, TechCrunch reports that Tinder Select is growing quietly and slowly. Given the fact that Tinder has yet to publically announce the feature, and doesn’t appear to have any plans to do so, it’s likely that Tinder Select is meant to function not as a marketing gimmick, but as a genuinely useful service for its highest-ranked members.
In addition to, and separate from, Tinder Select, users have the option of paying the company to improve their odds of a match. The premium version of Tinder gives users more freedom, allowing them unlimited right swipes and the ability to search in cities other than their own for a monthly fee. However, it seems as though nobody is able to pay to become a member of Tinder Select, and given the company’s likely desire to ensure only a certain pedigree of users have access to Select, this is unlikely to change.
Tinder Select is not the only dating service that offers a more exclusive option for its most desired users. Indeed, the concept of a secretive higher-status alternative to the standard affair for online dating is a popular and alluring one. Raya, a dating app exclusive to famous people, actively discourages its users from telling others about its existence. Another service, called The League, to which anyone can apply but few are likely to be accepted, garnered controversy for its elitism and its strict rules. And Bumble, the dating app in which women are obligated to send messages first, offers a “verification” status, called ViBee, to its users who are the most engaged.
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