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Meet the flirty Tinder bot swinging the youth vote

A group of activists are targeting voters in marginal seats to seduce them into getting out today and stopping the Tories

Young people are more important than ever in this election, Labour are far more popular with voters under 30 and we were also the demographic that were vehemently opposed to leaving EU and therefore aren’t too keen on Theresa May’s Hard Brexit.

But turnout among young people is notoriously low. This campaign has used free beers, grime stars and surprise raves to seduce young people into voting. And it may have worked – there’s been a sharp increase in young people registering. But there is a lot more seduction needed in order to stop the Conservatives.

Enter the Tinder chat-bot. A group of young women have teamed up to develop software that targets young voters in marginal seats and tells them how to vote in order to keep the Tories out, because what is sexier than democracy?

Using the profiles of volunteers, the interactive bot will message all your matches and try and persuade them to get out and vote tactically. The reactive script knows who is best to vote for according to where you live.

Yara Rodrigues Fowler, 24, started using the app to get people to register to vote. Eventually, she teamed up with law student Charlotte Goodman, Erika Pheby and Kyle Butner who are both software engineers to develop the technology to engage young people who are typically quite hard to reach. Volunteer users anywhere can sign up so that their profile can be set up with the automated service.

“You can see the conversations (the bot is having) on your phone,” Fowler explained. “The script is quite reactive. If they say they are going to vote Labour, it sends an arm emoji and a ‘Remember to turn out’ message with a link so they can find their polling station.”

But don’t rely on the bot to be able to challenge in depth debate and scrutiny. “There are some things the bot doesn’t know how to respond to so if you say ‘Oh I’m wavering because I was really pro-Brexit but there was this Labour scandal’ then it just sends a ‘Go and vote’ message.” However, the person who owns the profile can jump in at any time and get involved in the conversation – one guy already got a date out of it. 

In under a day, the girls have managed to crowdfund almost £1000 for the idea which went live yesterday. They raised their goal total so quickly yesterday they had to shut it down by 11 am. Now they can afford to give you a Tinder+ account for unlimited swipes to maximise the outreach. Fowler estimates that she has reached between 10k-20k 18-25-year-olds in marginal constituencies so far.

“We managed to get a guy out to vote Labour because the bot told him they are in favour of £10 minimum wage,” added Fowler.

They are still looking for volunteers so find out how to get your Tinder profile involved here.