Suraj Patel, a Democratic congressional candidate in New York, has been “catfishing” users on Grindr, Tinder, and other hookup apps with fake hottie profiles in order to engage with voters.
Mr. Patel has waged the most millennial of campaigns. On a recent Thursday evening, he was sitting in a former bar in the East Village that he uses as his campaign headquarters. His campaign manager handed him one of three phones that was logged into the dating app Tinder, and Mr. Patel began furiously swiping right.
All around the bar — adorned with blue-velvet booths and a sound system that was playing Kanye West — campaign volunteers, logged onto Tinder, Grindr or Bumble, were doing the same thing. Mr. Patel calls it Tinder banking: Participants set up an account with a picture of an attractive person, usually not themselves, and begin seeking matches. Mr. Patel uses a picture of his brother…
…When someone responds, Mr. Patel replies with a political pickup line: “Hi Sarah. Are you into civic engagement?” He soon reveals who he really is.
“It’s kinda like catfishing,” Patel told the NYT.
New York’s LGBT Network chief David Kilmnick denounced Patel: “On the day of NYC Pride, where hundreds of thousands will be brave and courageous coming out as their true authentic selves for being LGBT, Suraj Patel’s actions are unethical and demonstrates he’s out of touch with issues that LGBT people face every day. These dating apps are designed to be safe spaces for LGBT people to meet one another.”
Patel is running against incumbent Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney in the primary tomorrow.
What do you think? Should these tactics be off limits?