Hawaii politician’s foray into Tinder could not have gone worse

illustration of tulips made out of the tinder logo

Less ‘passing state bills,’ and more ‘Netflix and chill.’

While the use of social media to connect with audiences has become popular among brands and politicians, not everyone has had such luck. Take Greggor Ilagan, a 29-year-old county councilman from Puna, Hawaii, whose networking strategy quickly turned into a case of sliding into your DMs gone wrong.

“Hey you! Help me make a positive difference in our community. Swipe right and let’s talk,” Ilagan’s Tinder profile read. “I bet we can find common ground on issues and make a positive impact around us. Swipe right and let’s get to know each other.”

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Ilagan, who is running for the District 2 Hawaii State Senate, used the dating app to engage supporters for his campaign. On Tinder, users can set dating preferences on gender, age, and proximity, allowing users to see other profiles up to 100 miles away from the user’s location. If both users see the other’s profile and “swipe right,” they can begin a conversation. 

However Ilagan soon realized he was targeting a much different audience than he expected. In setting his preferences to match with both men and women, Ilagan’s broad audience brought in some serious dating inquiries.

“…Because it’s a dating site, there were actually a lot of guys that were hitting on me. I was always having to direct people back to the main focus,” Ilagan told Honolulu Civil Beat. “They asked me, ‘Oh, can I have a date?’ And I said, ‘Well, we can have a meeting and we can talk about government and maybe you can help out on the campaign.’”

Between redirecting conversations back to his campaign and talking his interested suitors into becoming potential supporters, the app became too overwhelming for Ilagan. He eventually abandoned the platform and is sticking to Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

“I thought the one-on-one interaction would be great, but it just leads to other things,” Ilagan told Civil Beat. “Now I know why people don’t campaign on it. Tinder just has a different environment and different expectation. I learned the hard way.“

Perhaps he should consider an app a touch more appropriate for his next run. Ilagan could not be reached for comment.

Illustration by Max Fleishman

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