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Social media experiment exposes popularity of new dating app among Provo singles

Published: Tuesday, April 16 2013 4:30 p.m. MDT

If you're single and live in Provo, you may have heard of the new dating app, Tinder. This trend has not only hit Provo, but single adults in cities around the country have begun to use the new social media service.

The New York Times described the popularity of the app by providing the large number of users this young company has already acquired.

"Tinder, which was introduced as an iOS application in October, appears to be picking up steam," Jenna Wortham wrote. "Its founders say the application is downloaded more than 20,000 times each day, and to date they’ve made 20 million matches through the service."

The dating app has capitalized on an era when many single adults turn to online dating. "Research Now" recently did a survey on dating habits in America, in which it found that thousands of single adults are relying on social media in order to find "the right one."

Its survey reported that 53 percent of single respondents use online dating services, and 56 percent of the single respondents are more likely to turn to the Internet rather than friends for dating advice.

While BYU's Universe noted the momentum Tinder has picked up in Provo, it wasn't until three BYU students set up a social media experiment to see just how many guys would show up to meet a pretty girl they had only seen on Tinder that the significance of the app was recognized.

"We weren’t sure we’d be willing to do it," Bowman Bagley told the Huffington Post. "We didn’t think that many people would. And we were proven wrong."

Bagley, along with two roommates, started the experiment by creating a fake profile on Tinder using the pictures from Miss Teen USA Kendall Fein’s online profile.

The trio then spent an hour "liking" any guy who appeared on the fake girl Sammy's Tinder account.

By the next day, the fake account had received several hundred matches, which led the roommates to message each match, asking to meet at Yogurtland in Orem.

“I’m going to yogurt shop called yogurtland tonight at 9 in orem with some girl friends if you want to meet up,” Sammy wrote.

Not knowing what they had gotten into, Bagley, Gessel and Valdez showed up at the yogurt shop only to find dozens of single guys waiting for Sammy to arrive.

"The whole place, just groups of guys after groups of guys showing up into this little yogurt place on a Thursday night to meet this girl that no one’s ever heard of, has no friends on Facebook or anything," Bagley said.

Yet more than 70 men showed up to meet the girl who looked almost too perfect to be real.

“I thought it’d be a fun idea, but then I found myself just sitting there judging people the whole time,” Bagely said. “I’d rather go outside and play volleyball in shorts, enjoy the weather and meet someone that way rather than looking at a picture and seeing if I like them from that.”

Bagley's social experiment has made it clear just how many young adults are turning to online dating sites and has brought up the question of what can be trusted when looking to date online.

According to "Research Now," fake statements online aren't all that uncommon. Its survey also reported that 33 percent of men surveyed admitted to lying on an online dating profile.

Sarah Sanders Petersen is an intern for Deseret News where she writes for Mormon Times and does other feature articles. She is a communications major and editing minor from Brigham Young University.

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