We all expected the Ukrainian conflict to be one of the most covered wars in world history. The prevalence of social media and internet access guaranteed before the first bomb dropped that Russian aggression would be covered and shared in real time. One thing that no one predicted was the weaponization of dating apps like Tinder.
Early in the conflict The Sun reported that Ukrainian women were being inundated with messages from Russian soldiers. Perhaps the attempted suitors really believed Mr. Putin's propaganda that they were to be hailed as heroes and welcomed once they crossed the border or maybe they were just lonely. Whatever the case, the world took notice and initiatives began around the phenomenon.
Firstly, A Slovakian media agency launched the Special Love Operation which encourages Tinder users to bombard Russian singles, in both Ukraine and Russia, with images from the war in Ukraine to show them what was actually transpiring. “The Russians do not know the truth about the war in Ukraine,” its website reads. “Putin ignores the whole world, but maybe he doesn’t ignore his own people. We found a way to bypass censorship on Tinder.” Given the bans on Facebook, Instagram, and others within Russia, Tinder is quickly becoming one of the few ways to get true information into the country.
While there is no evidence yet that Tinder has been used in any spy or surveillance capacity so far, the involvement of the technology does open up incredible possibilities. One can easily imagine a scenario where individuals, on either side of the conflict, may use Tinder and other dating apps to determine the location and movement of soldiers.