People outside China are reportedly getting information related to COVID-19 straight from the outbreak epicenter in Wuhan, China by using Tinder.
Tinder users are able to circumvent censorship from Chinese government and partisan media sources by matching and communicating with Wuhan residents who use VPN, reports BuzzFeed News.
Using the app’s Passport feature, users with Tinder Plus or Tinder Gold memberships can swipe in any location, including Wuhan, despite Tinder being banned in China.
“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,” wrote Twitter user @drethelin.
Setting my tinder to Wuhan so I can get the real scoop on what’s going on
— Миша (@drethelin) January 27, 2020
Drethelin, who is based in the U.S., shared that he used the app to get information directly from people in the locked down city as he felt the Chinese government was holding back details about the novel coronavirus.
“I learned the quarantine is not exactly soldiers on every block keeping people in, it’s more like your neighbors will snitch on you if they see you out and about. But I probably could have learnt that from public sources if I did more research,” he was quoted as saying.
Drethelin noted that the Wuhan residents are also getting information from the outside world by communicating online.
According to an English teacher in Vietnam named James, he also uses Tinder “to find out about the experiences of the people who were actually there.”
Writing on his blog MediaVSReality, James shared some of their responses he got from the Tinder users in Wuhan.
Based on the screenshots he posted, the responses ranged from anxiety to loneliness:
Another Tinder user who got curious about the situation in Wuhan was Bianca from the Philippines, who also got to speak to some Wuhan residents.
According to her, some expressed messages of depression, and boredom, while others shared optimism that China would be able to recover soon.
Bianca, who eventually got matched with a railway worker in Wuhan, has an upcoming date as soon as the lock-down in the city is over.
“That’s the plan but aren’t exclusive yet since we haven’t met but we get along well so far. But my city is just starting to get worse while his is getting better -.-“ she revealed.