Tinder Just Became a Social Network

Tinder is upgrading with a fresh bundle of photo-sharing features, called "Moments."

Daniel Stuckey

Daniel Stuckey

Tinder's new offices in Hollywood. Image: Tinder

Tinder is getting a major upgrade today: The matching app is rolling out with a fresh bundle of photo-sharing features, called "Moments." If it goes off without a hitch, then we could be in for an interesting summer: The summer an insanely popular dating app became an insanely popular social network.

The number of users on Tinder is a secret, but the app is downloaded by more than 100k users per day. The app's co-creators, Justin Mateen, Jonathan Badeen, and Sean Rad, have told me that Tinder, with its more-than 81 percent 18-34 year-old userbase, is just around the corner from passing its two billionth "match."

"Many of our early adopters have hundreds of matches," Mateen told me, which is true. I , and many of my friends, have over 1,000 matches, just from mindlessly swiping right (how you say "yes, I like this person," on Tinder). "Now instead of just chatting," he continued, "users can broadcast photos in order to get to know each other better."

Tinder's new update. Screenshots courtesy of Tinder

With a full set of filters, text, and drawing tools, Tinder will now let users broadcast ephemeral photo art, called "Moments," to all of their matches simultaneously.

Moments stack up at the top of the Matches and Chat menus, where users can view all Moments published by their matches. Like any addictive social network, metrics of who has liked your Moments are tracked, and will show up when you tap a circular photo button in the bottom-right of the "Matches" menu.

Taking cues from Snapchat, the ability to view a match's Moment will expire a day after it's been received, upping the demand to check one's phone dramatically. If someone likes (right-swipes) your Moment, you'll know, and can then enter a chat with them. You can also mute Moments, because the feature is bound to spawn abuse—frequent, irrelevant, insufferable pictures, or god forbid you see the unflattering side of someone.

Inevitably, there will be dick pics.

"I'll post one as soon as I get the update," I told Mateen over the phone. He laughed, then was quick to remind me that it would be attached to a profile containing my face, and underscored by my name. "You will get reported and blocked," Mateen and Rad further explained in an email, when I inquired about the possibility more seriously, as it's a situation the app makers will no doubt have to prepare for. "Your matches will flag your account for review by our moderation team and potentially result in your account being deleted."

We've seen Instagram become much more than a place to post photos, for better and for worse. But now, people will be doing a lot of the same narcissistic things Instagram has taught them to do, but through Tinder. What more an appropriate venue to flex your eight pack, or post a drunken selfie, than before a crowd of potential matches?

You’re no longer pushing your messages through tunnels canopied by the open eyes of your personal and professional contacts. You’re just showing off to the people who have simply implied (with a swipe across their phone screens) that they’d at least like to offer you a place to write them a note. Still, with our private and professional social circles collapsing in on each other, there's an ever-increasing chance that you could broadcast your peacocking to a co-worker or even a superior.

Tinder's already attracted people away from dating sites such as OkCupid, Match.com, eHarmony, etc., due to primarily to its simplicity, and its embrace of gamification. The right-swipe has entered the cultural lexicon of young people playing on their smart phones. You swipe right because you approve a person's profile, their surface-level details, and whatever perceived essence you can ascribe to someone behind glass projected on pixels.

Still, a moment is mimicked, that moment where someone compelled you to look twice. When I visited the company's 40-plus person office in Hollywood, Mateen told me the digital recreation of that double-take moment is what drove the app's development.

The author and Justin Mateen at Tinder HQ

What resulted was incredibly simple. But now, with its new update comes a stab at a conversation that could place the app in a whole different category in mobile app stores. You're essentially passing self-destructing notes to a self-tailored audience of people that you think you might kiss, sleep with, or con into getting you a limo to an airport when you’ve run out of cash. Or, I suppose, you could just be friends?

The new features stand to lure idle or non-committed users into Tinder's world: I've seen some people use the app simply to laugh at online dating, which they’ve decided is absurd. Others refrain from ever actually using Tinder to meet people IRL, and instead simply mine it for an ego boost. Some users just right-swipe everyone they see, oblivious of the 1,000+ recipients on the other end.

"What will it destroy?" I asked, with regards to the app's overhaul.

Mateen answered, "Hopefully the pick-up lines. You won't need them anymore. We're giving you something to talk about."