People are using Tinder to find out what’s really happening in Wuhan

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The FINANCIAL – The most popular dating app became source of news about what’s happening in Wuhan and how people are dealing with coronavirus. Despite being banned there, people around the world are using Tinder’s “passport” feature to chat to residents in Wuhan. Users are switching their location settings to Wuhan, the center of the outbreak in China, to discover the latest updates.

Tinder has become an unlikely source of news about how people are dealing with the coronavirus outbreak in China. Despite being banned in there, BuzzFeed claims that users around the world are using it to chat to residents in Wuhan about what is really going on in their city. Tinder offers two forms of premium subscriptions, one called “Plus”, which costs £3.99 a month, and another called “Gold”, which costs £7.49. The paid offerings have a range of features including being able to “passport” into other cities around the world and start swiping, Telegraph reported.

Most Tinder users use the app to match with people nearby, for obvious reasons. But the world’s most used dating app has a premium feature , that allows a user with Tinder Plus or Tinder Gold memberships to choose to swipe in any location — like, say, Wuhan — no matter where they are. And despite Tinder being banned in China, users say they’re having luck setting their location to Wuhan, allowing them to match with and chat to residents to hear their perspective on the global story. US-based Twitter user @drethelin tweeted “Setting my tinder to Wuhan so I can get the real scoop on what’s going on” on Jan. 28 — just before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 was a public health emergency. He told BuzzFeed News he suspected the Chinese government was holding back information. It was obvious, he said, to use the app to speak directly to people there — and it worked, BuzzFeed News wrote.

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Using Tinder isn’t a perfect way to communicate. Another user, Bianca, was curious about what life was like in Wuhan. She said she was able to chat from the Philippines to people in Wuhan who used a VPN. She spoke to a few users whose emotions ranged from being depressed, to bored, to optimistic they wouldn’t get sick and that China would soon recover from the crisis, according to BuzzFeed News.

“I learned the quarantine is not exactly soldiers on every block keeping people in, it’s more like your neighbours will snitch on you if they see you out and about,” @drethelin told BuzzFeed. “But I probably could have learnt that from public sources if I did more research.” While it probably goes without saying that people’s dating profiles aren’t always the most reliable sources of information, is it really any worse than what’s coming out of the White House these days, AV Club wrote.

James, the blogger behindMediaVSReality, also shared the experiences from Tinder users residing in Wuhan. He wanted to uncover what Wuhan residents have to say about being quarantined. An anonymous Tinder user mentioned having anxiety because the bridges are blocked and transportation has become unavailable. Another anonymous Wuhan resident, who also uses Tinder, mentioned being restless after staying inside their home the entire day. Leaving the residence isn’t dangerous, but food supply is just sufficient with essentials, such as food and water, still stocked in the supermarkets, News Week reported.

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