The National Center on Sexual Exploitation is pleased to award the Dignity Defense Award to Tinder, a popular online dating app, for cracking down on prostitution advertisements. The company is doing this by removing social-media handles that are listed in public bios, as such handles are often used to advertise OnlyFans, “sugar dating,” and other forms of prostitution. Tinder announced this decision in early May 2023, saying, “Tinder isn’t the place for any sort of sex work, escort services, or compensated relationships. So, no—don’t use Tinder to find your sugarmamma.”
“Fun and Safe” Online Environment = No Prostitution and Pornography!
Tinder stated that their policy update and actions against prostitution ads is intended to keep the dating app a “fun and safe place.” Interestingly, this echoes the company Imgur’s statement—the most recent recipient of NCOSE’s Dignity Defense Award—when they banned and removed pornography: “These changes are an important step in Imgur’s continued efforts to remain a safe and fun space on the internet.
NCOSE is in total agreement with Tinder and Imgur on this point—we want the internet to be a fun and safe place, and prostitution and pornography are incompatible with that vision!Thank you, Tinder, for cracking down on advertisements for prostitution! Click To Tweet
OnlyFans and Sugar Dating—The Latest Iterations of Prostitution
OnlyFans and so-called “sugar dating” have become the latest iterations of prostitution—and very dangerous ones that have pushed sexual exploitation into the mainstream, further normalizing and glamorizing it. Due to whitewashed, misleading language that seeks to obscure the exploitative realities, these forms of prostitution have become more broadly accepted in culture and are sometimes mistaken as safe. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
For the third year in a row, NCOSE has placed OnlyFans on the Dirty Dozen List (an annual campaign that calls out mainstream contributors to sexual exploitation) for rampant sex trafficking, child sexual abuse material, image-based sexual abuse, and other harms. You can take action, urging the U.S. Attorney General to investigate OnlyFans here.
Yet despite the extensive and known harms on specific platforms like OnlyFans and the dangerous and exploitative nature inherent to prostitution, many mainstream social media companies continue to provide a platform for companies and individuals promoting and advertising commercial sex: despite this content being accessible by and even pushed to children! Videos and posts encouraging viewers to consider sugar dating, camming, pornography, and even becoming a topless maid are rampant on apps wildly popular with youth like Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram.
NCOSE is pleased that Tinder has recognized that sexual exploitation, no matter how whitewashed, does not belong on a dating app or any online platform that wants to offer a “fun and safe” environment. We commend Tinder’s actions and call on other companies— especially ones marketing to teens—to follow suit!