Chinese Tinder-style dating app prohibits “foul” phrases in chat

A woman uses her cellphone on a subway train in Beijing on June 24, 2014. (WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)

China is notorious for slapping new names on carbon-copied American products, but Tantan, the Chinese reproduction of dating app Tinder, does contain an innovation: censorship. Just like Tinder, Tantan allows people to swipe left or right on the profiles of nearby users, enabling two-way chat for mutual matches. When Larry Salibra, an entrepreneur out of Hong Kong, reverse-engineered the app’s code he discovered that certain sexually charged phrases such as “hookup buddy,” “meet for sex,” or “looking for a prostitute” were flagged within the app’s code as “foul.” Quartz tested the app and found that when a user sends a message containing a “foul” phrase they receive a warning asking them to reconsider sending their message. The user can still send the “foul” phrase, but given that Tantan also lacks any form of encryption it’s possible users who use “foul” terms can be tracked by pretty much anyone. Quartz reached out to Tantan founder Yue Wang, who explained that the feature is intended to encourage “users to behave in a civilized way.”

Quartz speculates the measure may actually be a concession to China’s government, which has accused another Chinese dating app, Momo, of facilitating prostitution in the past. Whatever the case, it seems users would be best advised to speak politely — a lesson that certain American Tinder users could actually benefit from.

Read the full story at Quartz.

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