Woman cons dozens of men into ‘date’ then sets them against each other

Natasha Aponte got her Tinder matches to meet in New York City, all thinking theyd be going on a one-on-one date

Artificial Intelligence

Natasha Aponte is a New York-based model who isnt afraid of some drama on a first date. Over the past month, shes been using Tinder to arrange for hundreds of guys to meet her at the same place, at the same time, unbeknown to each other.

At 6pm on Sunday, hundreds of men arrived at Union Square in Manhattan for what Aponte told them would be a one-on-one date where they would watch her friend DJ. Once they had formed an audience, each thinking the rest of the men were just there for a show, Aponte took to the stage, explained what was going on and started whittling down the guys with questions and challenges, saying that the winner would actually go on a date with her.

Ava (@bvdhai)

The scene pic.twitter.com/U0ROAWKDQc

August 19, 2018

The stunt came to light after a one of the men who attended recounted what happened in a Twitter thread that has since gone viral. He said he chatted with Aponte for around an hour last month before she said she had to focus on work and would get back in touch in a few weeks. Out of the blue, she then suggested they meet for a date at Union Square to watch her friend DJ.

Other men who matched with Aponte have since corroborated the story. One told New York magazine that Aponte used a near-identical story with him.

Once the men arrived, Aponte took to the stage with a microphone and gave a speech justifying the stunt, claiming that she thought dating apps were difficult and so had decided to bring everyone in person and see how that goes.

She told any man whose last girlfriend broke up with them to please leave because I completely trust her judgment.

She then began dismissing some of the men, while making a few points about the skewed nature of modern relationships. First, she told anyone who was in a relationship to leave, saying that studies show half of the men on Tinder are in a relationship.

Next she asked Trump supporters to go home. If you think you can support Trump and date a Puerto Rican, nows the time to leave.

She then asked all the men who had been dumped by their previous partner to raise their left arm and all the men who had done the dumping to raise their right arm. She told all the men who had been broken up with to go, saying: Please leave because I completely trust her judgment.

She also got rid of men called Jimmy, those with long beards, beer bellies, Toms shoes, khaki trousers, smokers and those just looking for a hook-up. A low-quality livestream of the event cuts out before you can see what happens next, but some of the remaining men reported they were asked to make a one-minute pitch to date Aponte.

Some of the attendees can also be seen leaving of their own accord, and some of the back-and-forth with the crowd appears awkward and occasionally combative rather than taken in good humour. Some of the men can be heard chanting shut the fuck up when she announces statistics of how many men on Tinder were committing infidelity.

It has since emerged that Aponte, who brought a full camera crew with her to the stunt, has been working with a viral marketing company called Rob Bliss Creative. The company were also behind the viral video in which Shoshana Roberts walks through New York for 10 hours with secret cameras attached to her, to highlight how often she is harassed and catcalled on the streets.

Bliss said this week that his company would be posting a full video of what happened with the Tinder stunt later this week.

The event highlights the way in which dating apps, which were previously the last vestige of social media that was truly social, in that they were exclusively a place for interactions between real people rather than brands or influencers, are now increasingly being used for marketing, journalism and other non-dating practices.

Last year Kevin McElwee wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review about how Tinder was increasingly being used to quickly speak to sources. He said that after North Korea made nuclear threats against the US territory of Guam, he had used the app to find Guamanian locals and ask whether they felt vulnerable.

Brands are also now all over the app. Some offer straightforward promotions: Dominos ran a campaign where users that swiped right on a heart-shaped pizza could win a free meal. Others have been smarter: Ex Machina, a film about artificial intelligence, let male users match with Ava, the films attractive female robot, and she would chat with them for a little bit (or at least, an AI bot would pretend to be her), before eventually revealing she was a promotion for the film.

Its not yet clear what Aponte seeks to gain from this mass Tinder date but she should take caution from the star of Blisss famous catcalling stunt. She went on to sue Bliss for $500,000 after he re-edited the video as an advert with her body covered by TGI Friday appetizers, so it appeared the men were catcalling french fries and mozzarella sticks. She claimed she was only ever paid $200 for the original video, which has been viewed over 47m times, and didnt agree to be used in the recut advert. Her case was unsuccessful.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/aug/21/tinder-new-york-union-square-mass-date

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