NEW YORK CITY — For the last few months, I’ve been testing Tinder Select, a secret version of the popular dating app that my colleague Rob Price once described as Tinder for “celebrities, models, and millionaires.”
To be clear, I am none of those three things. But Tinder Select has definitely made it easier for me to match with people.
Tinder has never officially acknowledged Tinder Select exists — Tinder declined to comment for this article — and there’s a lot of misinformation out there about it. But here is what Tinder Select is actually like, from someone who has used it.
It’s not a VIP section
The way some press reports have described Tinder Select is like a virtual VIP section of the app, where celebs and high rollers can pop metaphorical overpriced bottles, and talk about how this club is “ok, but really only in the VIP.”
That’s not really what it is.
The first thing to note about Tinder Select is that it functions more or less the same way regular Tinder does. There is no separate feed where you can swipe only other denizens of Select World.
So when you fire up Tinder Select, what you get is a Tinder feed that looks the same as your normal one except for a few colour changes. The most visible difference is that when you run across someone who is also a Tinder Select member, they appear with a blue border around their picture, and a badge that says “Select” along the top.
These people are few and far between, even in New York City, which suggests it’s very much still in beta. In fact, there are so few people in Tinder Select, that when putting together this post, I couldn’t find the profile of a Tinder Select member to screenshot and blur. That said, most of the Tinder Select members I’ve seen in the past worked in tech or in PR.
However, there’s a supercharged algorithm
But even though you can’t filter the feed, there is a huge way that Tinder Select changes your experience: the algorithm. In short, if you are a Tinder Select member, the algorithm is stacked in your favour — and I’m not talking about a little bit. It feels like some giant Cupid is sitting on your side of the scale.
The first evening I got Tinder Select, I swiped a few people, and it didn’t seem that different. My feed felt a bit more curated, and front-loaded with people who likely were popular on Tinder. But it wasn’t that noticeable. All in all, the experience felt largely the same.
But then I went to bed and woke up with over 20 new matches. I’m certainly not normally that popular, and that hadn’t ever happened to me before.
My theory is that Tinder Select pushed my profile toward the front of the feeds of people I had swiped “yes” on, and it was working through my back catalogue of swipes. Speaking with other Tinder Select members who wished to remain anonymous, they all said they noticed the same thing. That apparent boost has continued over the last few months using Tinder Select, and I’ve found that often if I spend some time swiping, a few hours later matches will start to pop up.
But it’s not just people I have already swiped right on. I also feel like I run across more people who have “liked” me already as well. But it’s hard to tell. One indication that my profile is getting preference in other people’s feeds, even those I haven’t yet come across, is that more people are “super liking” me than used to before I was in Tinder Select. Other Select members told me they have also noticed an increase in super likes.
In short: Tinder Select makes it easier to get matches, across multiple fronts.
How do I get in?
As to how you get on Tinder Select, there’s no way to apply. You have to be invited by either Tinder, or by someone who has invite privileges. I have no insight into how Tinder makes its decisions, but it could have something to do with your “Elo score,” or a secret rating of desirability, based on the number of people who swipe right on you and other metrics.
I got in via invite, not from Tinder, and the company might kick me off when they read this. (However I’d appreciate it if you didn’t, Tinder, if you’re reading this.)
The future of Select
It’s hard to say what plans Tinder has for Tinder Select.
Right now, Tinder Select simply seems like a way to make its top users happy, and perhaps more likely to stick around on the app. It could also be a response to private dating apps like Raya, which caters to celebs and prominent Instagram users, and The League.
If Tinder does open up Tinder Select to more people, and gives you the option to browse a Select-only feed, the business possibilities are easy to imagine. The most obvious is that Tinder could sell a higher-priced advertising unit, which would appear only in the Select feed.
But Tinder Select has been around for months in a murky beta, so it doesn’t seem like Tinder is in a hurry to get it out the door.
Here’s a short walk-through of what it’s like:
If you click it you get to a page where you can toggle Tinder Select on and off. Presumably, one day that could get you to two distinct feeds. If you get to 'nominate' people to be on Tinder Select, those will appear here. I have 0.
When you're actually in the feed nothing changes all that much, except the new algorithm. There is also a little 'S,' but that seems purely cosmetic.
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