Swipe Buster, the Tinder-tracking website, is dangerous. Here’s why

Track anyone you like for under a fiver

While some might argue that online dating is “killing romance,” we strongly disagree. Although apps like Tinder can be potential minefields, they’re still pretty great for finding long-term relationships, or alternatively for just having a bit of fun.

In an ideal world, online dating sites would only be used for online dating, but there are some real gits out there who make a profit from the details on a person’s dating profile. Enter Swipe Buster, which “busts” people who are on Tinder, ostensibly those who are cheating on their partners. For $5, you enter the person’s first name, age, gender, and where they likely last used Tinder, and receive a gallery of users who fit that criteria. From there, you find (or don’t find, and consequently look like a complete fool) the person you’re looking for, and you can see their photos, when they last logged on, and whether they’re interested in men and/or women. TLDR: Pay $5 to stalk someone’s Tinder profile.

Image: Swipe Buster

There are a multitude of things wrong with this concept, which is perhaps why the creator of Swipe Buster has asked to remain anonymous in all his interviews (honestly, we tried). What does it say about an idea if the person behind it doesn’t want to be publicly associated with it? Perhaps that it’s not a very good one?

In an interview with Vanity Fair, the creator explained, “A lot of people are going to be like ‘WHAT!,’ and hopefully a lot of people are going to be more careful, and Tinder is going to say we have to XYZ to protect our API… I think the positive outcome [is that] a company is going to be protective of its users. We’re expecting it to be quite impactful, and a lot more people will realise what kind of data they have online.”

This guy seems to think he’s doing people two noble services — 1) Checking if your partner is faithful and 2) Making sure you’re aware of what you put online — but to us, this sounds like the kind of excuse “social experiment” idiots use: “I did a really shitty thing but it’s okay, see, because I just did it to show how easy it is do the shitty thing!”

The most dangerous problem with Swipe Buster is that it allows anyone on Tinder to be “checked up on” by possessive and/or abusive ex-partners. While it could be argued that searchable information on Swipe Buster is already publicly available on Tinder (the site uses Tinder’s open API), it’s not nearly as easy to find. There are already a plethora of apps and services that allow abusers to track a person, why add to that? Just because this information is public doesn’t mean that you have to make it even easier for an abuser to find a specific person, and it especially doesn’t mean that you should make a living from it.

The crimped hair isn't the only bad decision this lady's making. Image: iStock/Marina_Ph

Inevitably, Swipe Buster will also be used to out LGBT individuals who haven’t told their family and friends yet. Again, sure, there’s the chance that said family and friends might happen to stumble upon their Tinder profile at some point, but it’s unlikely – and not as mean-spirited as looking for them on something designed to ‘bust’ people. If you’re not comfortable coming out in real life, or worse if it’s unsafe for you to come out in your current environment, Tinder might be one of the only ways you can look for an honest and happy relationship. Swipe Buster would allow anyone who “suspects” something to find out the truth, and use screenshots as blackmail, without the person’s consent.

I used Tinder for a while between relationships and deleted the app after some time, but I’m pretty sure my profile is still active (deleting the app doesn’t remove you from it). I’ve happily been in a long-term relationship for a while now, but if my boyfriend and I had just started dating and he’d used Swipe Buster to see if I were on Tinder, that could be a potentially awkward conversation to have. Maybe I still have an account because I don’t think we’re that serious and I still want to swipe on Tinder, or maybe I just never got around to deleting my profile — either way, I shouldn’t have to explain to anyone why I have a profile. While this scenario isn’t threatening like the two I’ve mentioned, it’s still a crappy thing to have to go through, especially in regards to something like Tinder which is supposed to be lighthearted and fun.

If you do use Swipe Buster because you think your partner is cheating on you and you turn out to be correct, then what? You confront them and say “I know you’re on Tinder because I paid $5 to track you down”? They’d be well within their rights to dump you for that alone. And if it turns out they’re not cheating, you’ve just ruined your relationship for the sake of misplaced jealousy.

We just don’t see how a site like this could do its job (if you can call it that) without harming anyone in the process. As we saw from the Ashley Madison leak, publicising people’s data like this causes suicides. No amount of moralising about cheating makes that OK. And besides, if this guy’s motives are so pure, why’s he charging for it? It’s certainly not for the greater good.

If you feel the need to pay actual money for a service like this, it’s time to re-evaluate your relationship. Curious about a new partner’s relationship history? Ask them about it. Suspect that your partner might be cheating? Talk it out with them. Honestly, whether you get caught or not, websites like this — and, you know, stalking in general — will never fix your relationship. We’re swiping left on Swipe Buster, and so should you.

Main image: iStock/Marco_Piunti