Tinder’s paid-for offerings have given users the chance to “passport” into China and get a sense of the situation on the ground
Tinder has become an unlikely source of news about how people are dealing with the coronavirus outbreak in China.
Despite being banned in there, BuzzFeed claims that users around the world are using it to chat to residents in Wuhan about what is really going on in their city.
Tinder offers two forms of premium subscriptions, one called “Plus”, which costs £3.99 a month, and another called “Gold”, which costs £7.49.
The paid offerings have a range of features including being able to “passport” into other cities around the world and start swiping.
Vietnam-based English teacher James used the feature to speak with Wuhan locals and posted a series of interactions on his blog MediaVsReality.
In his Tinder conversations, residents spoke of being “anxious every day”, being unable to sleep, and general fear.
“People are scared, we just want our lives back,” one user said.
“I’m just staying inside and trying not to die haha,” another wrote.
Some responses suggested that the situation will be “under control” in Wuhan soon and that the government “did a good job”.
In January, Texas based Twitter user @drethelin said he was wary of the information the Chinese government was putting out on the virus.
“I learned the quarantine is not exactly soldiers on every block keeping people in, it’s more like your neighbours will snitch on you if they see you out and about,” he said in an interview with Buzzfeed.
Wuhan residents were finding out more about the ongoing situation by talking to one another, according to the Twitter user.
On Tuesday, the Chinese president Xi Jinping made his first visit to Wuhan since the outbreak. The visit to the city that has been on lockdown for weeks was widely viewed as a major show of confidence in the country’s response to the epidemic.
There have been 3,136 deaths attributed to the virus in China, all of them except for 112 have been in Hubei.
Last week, Beijing sent a team of experts and medical supplies to Iran to help the country combat the virus outbreak, according to the Chinese embassy in Tehran.
China has also donated $20 million (£15.3 million) to the World Health Organisation to support the group’s efforts in coordinating a global response. The WHO has yet to declare a global pandemic.