The people behind the smartphone apps Snapchat and Tinder have the power to reshape how we interact with our romantic and sexual partners, and how we seek and have sex itself.
That’s an enormous responsibility — one that requires maturity, good judgment and a healthy respect for gender equality. The problem is, a few of the people behind Snapchat and Tinder seem to have none of the above.
When news broke last week that a former vice president of Tinder filed a sexual harassment suit against the mobile dating app company, the most salacious parts of the complaint quickly spread around the Internet. Whitney Wolfe alleges that her former colleague Justin Mateen, chief marketing officer of the hugely popular app, called her a “whore” (among other slurs) and deliberately concealed Wolfe’s role in founding the company, in part because it would look too “slutty” for a woman to have contributed to the development of a dating and casual sex app. Eventually, Wolfe claims, Mateen and chief executive officer Sean Rad bullied her into resigning from Tinder.
Wolfe also named IAC/Interactive Corp, Tinder’s majority investor, in the suit. An IAC representative has described the accusations as “unfounded.” He also said that the company is conducting an internal investigation over the charges, and has suspended Mateen as a result of its finding that he did send private, inappropriate messages to Wolfe. Mateen did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
Mateen is not the first Silicon Valley startup wunderkind to be busted for mistreating members of the opposite sex. In May, Valleywag published a series of leaked emails from Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel. As a Stanford undergrad, Spiegel joked with his fellow Kappa Sigma brothers about how much alcohol it would take to get sorority girls drunk enough to have sex with them, and suggested that the best way to congratulate themselves for throwing a great party was to “have some girl put your large Kappa Sigma dick down her throat.” Spiegel may now wish he had Snapchatted those messages to his frat brothers, instead of emailing them. Written five years ago, they don’t exactly instill confidence in his maturity, nor do they suggest much respect for the millions of women who use his app. In May Spiegel issued a public apology for writing the emails and said that he is “mortified and embarrassed” that they were made public.