What Is Tinder?

An Intro to the Web's Hottest Online Dating App

Wondering what Tinder is and why everyone's talking about it? You're not the only one.

Tinder is a popular social networking and online dating app that basically uses your Facebook account and location data to match you up with other users in your area. According to the app description on iTunes, Tinder is "the new way to meet people around you."

How You're Supposed to Use Tinder

Once you've downloaded Tinder for iPhone or Android, Tinder will take you through the steps of connecting your Facebook account to Tinder so you can start setting up your account.

Tinder ​ensures in its Privacy Policy that nothing is ever posted publicly to your Facebook account, and it only needs your first name, age, the location from your phone's GPS and a few photos to get you started. The app will automatically grab a few of your publicly available photos from your Facebook account to use to show potential matches, which you can change later if you wish.

To get started with finding matches, Tinder will first identify your location and then try to match you up with other people nearby. You'll be shown a handful of photos from potential dates that Tinder finds for you.

You can then anonymously choose to "like"or "pass" on any suggested date. But if you decide to tap "like" on someone and they end up doing the same to you, Tinder will display a message that says "It's a match!" and then the both of you will be able to start messaging each other through the app, similar to SMS texting.

That's all that the app really allows you to do. Once you've made a match connection and started chatting, the rest of the relationship building is totally left up to you.

Some users interact with the app by using it as a serious online dating service, while others just casually browse it for fun without any plans of actually meeting any of their matches in real life.

It works for both types of users. 

How Tinder Determines Your Matches

It's important to point out that right now, Tinder is entirely reliant on Facebook. To sign up, you must have a Facebook account. 

Tinder takes users' Facebook profiles and then analyzes any information published on it based on general interests, social graph data (and even the friends you have in common with one another) so that it can find the most compatible match suggestions.

To increase your chances of getting matched up with more people, you can access the app settings and try increasing the location distance range in miles or age group of potential matches. 

Tinder Privacy Issues Regarding Location Data

Unfortunately, Tinder has had to deal with problems related to the way it displays user location data, putting users at a potential risk of being targeted by predators. This Forbes article explains it all in detail, and might even make you think twice about using Tinder if you're wary about sharing your location with complete strangers online.

As with any location-based social app, the reality of potentially being stalked by anyone who can see a user's location will almost always be a potential threat. Check out some of these tips and suggestions about staying safe and being careful when sharing your location online.

And if you'd like to know more about what kinds of trendy apps are out there nowadays, you can take a look at these 10 hot mobile apps that teens are using.