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Tinder, a mobile dating application, recently removed an advertising campaign being conducted on the app by Gap, Inc. (Gap). Tinder claimed that the advertisements violated its terms of service, which provide that the app is for “personal use only.” This should serve as a reminder to businesses to read and ensure compliance with the relevant terms of service before engaging in advertising on social media platforms.
Based on the variety of formats, different social media platforms allow for different types of advertising. Some platforms, such as Facebook, provide banner space that advertisers can purchase to engage in traditional advertising. Other platforms do not sell ad space, meaning that businesses must resort to what is known as “native advertising.” Native advertising utilizes the normal features of a social media platform to promote content. This is how Gap attempted to advertise on Tinder.
Tinder is a dating app that uses the GPS technology in smart phones. Tinder users can view the profiles of other users within a specified proximity. One user can indicate his or her interest in another by “swiping right” on that user’s profile. When users are mutually interested, Tinder alerts them of the match, at which point they can exchange messages.
In an effort to reach consumers, Gap created its own Tinder profiles that users would see as they scrolled through the profiles of other users. Gap was not the first company to engage in native advertising on Tinder. But when Gap announced publicly that it intended to utilize Tinder for its spring 2015 ad campaign, Tinder released a statement stressing that its terms of service prohibit the commercial use of the app. Tinder subsequently deleted Gap’s profiles.
Businesses will understandably want to expand their advertising into popular social media platforms. Before doing so, however, it is crucial that they understand and comply with the platform’s terms of service. In addition, when advertising on social media, traditional principles of advertising apply. All statements must be truthful and accurate. And any disclosures needed to keep an advertisement from being misleading must be included — even on apps with limited character space, such as Twitter.