From Tinder to Creeper: When Social Apps Go Wrong

One of the biggest faux-pas you can commit these days is coming off as a “creeper”. What exactly is a creeper and why is it seen as such a terrible act? A quick browse through Urban Dictionary shows dozens of definitions but I’ll add my own:

creep·er  [kree-per] — a person who gives off the impression of being too keen and undesirable in social situations

A creeper is not necessarily a person who is creepy, it’s much subtler than that. It’s one of those new slang terms, along with “hipster” or “bro”, that if you don’t understand it by now, I’m not sure you’ll ever truly understand it. :’) As you can imagine, social media has illuminated the problem of creepers. But it doesn’t just enable creepers, apps can become the creeper.

Is social media inadvertently creating new social issues?

An actual snapchat I received from a friend. Users can simply block their camera to create a black screen.

“Ratchet” is another one of those slang terms that if you don’t understand by now, you probably never will!

Social apps are some of the fastest growing startups right now, including Snapchat which took the 2012 Crunchie Award for “Fastest Rising Startup” and recently made headlines for turning down Facebook’s $3 million acquisition offer. I use Snapchat pretty frequently with my friends (pictured left) and it’s definitely grown on me. Controversy over whether or not user’s pictures really do disappear and sexting certainly hasn’t hindered Snapchat’s growth. Another app that we talk about frequently in my digital marketing class (for some reason) is Tinder, the gps-based dating app. 

Ok, so ignore all the emphasis I placed earlier on there being a difference between “creeper” and “creepy” because some apps are just creepy. 

The majority of my class decided that Tinder is borderline creepy but it has been embraced by users all over the world. In fact Tinder 3.0 just launched earlier this month. Apps that have also caused alarm include Girls Around Me, Placeme, and Lulu. For the record, I have never installed Tinder on my devices perhaps in an effort to preserve what little dignity I have left as a college senior. Sidenote: There’s a difference between creeper, creep, and someone who is creepy too!

How are companies trying to make up for the creepiness?

This Businessweek article from 2012 provides some good factors to think about when trying not to come across as creepy: transparency, consent, giving users control over the size of their social network, and letting your users opt-out when they want to. Makes sense.

Has social media and all these apps created more creepers in the world?

This is my own question that I think will be hard for anyone to answer due to generational differences. Meaning, each generation uses social media a little differently and mine is the first to grow up with it. Social media was originally a way for friends to stay connected but now it has drastically changed how we interact with friends, acquaintances, everyone. Social media created a whole new set of social etiquette that people have to learn as if interacting with other people wasn’t already hard enough. Are things better now? Hard to say. Is it all more convenient now? Give me a moment to tweet at my professor and fanclub friends.

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