Upcoming dating app draws flak for 'racist' ad

HighBlood's advertisement in a Facebook post (above) has sparked fury among netizens.
PHOTO: facebook/HighBlood

"No banglas, no maids, no uglies, no fakes/bots, no escorts," read the advertisement in a Facebook post for a dating app.

It sparked fury among netizens, who called out the ad from HighBlood for being racist.

Mr Lim Jialiang, 26, a chocolatier, told The New Paper: "It's not even exclusivity, it's racism.

"Let's not discount that some of these people, even maids and Bangladeshi workers, may also use the app to find love."

But HighBlood's founder, Mr Herbert Eng, 30, insisted he was not discriminating.

Read also: 'The man I've been dating is nice, but he bores me'

He said: "In Singapore, there is a certain racial preference when it comes to dating - we are merely responding to honest feedback that respondents have given us. Does having a racial preference in considering a life partner make one racist?"

A potential HighBlood user is required to fill in his or her personal details.

That person will then have to go through a "covenant", which is made up of five random existing users of the app. The potential user has to get at least three approvals before acceptance.

If they fail, they can pay $100 to join immediately or wait 12 hours to face the "covenant" again.

Mr Eng, who also founded the anonymous confessions app Fessup, said HighBlood's developers do not decide on who is allowed on the app.

15 cheap and good dating ideas for you and your man

  • 1. Go back to your first date: Retrace your steps and revisit the place where it all began.
  • 2. Visit a library: Make a date at any of our excellent libraries, borrow some romantic literature (better yet, if they come with steamy scenes) and get into the mood, literal-ly.
  • 3. Play Pokemon Go together: It's free, it gives you a nice workout and you can squeal in excitement together when you finally catch that illusive Snorlax.
  • 4. Give each other a massage: All you need is your favourite massage oil or body lotion.
  • 5. Pack an atas picnic: Stretch your dollar by buying top-notch food from Garcons at Essen At The Pinnacle, an atas food court.
  • 6. Make origami together: Working on a mini project together, even if it’s just for a couple of hours, is great for bonding.
  • 7. Bake a cake together: Get your hands dirty so the outcome will be so much sweeter.
  • 8. Be a tourist in Singapore: Take the train – don’t forget to hold hands – and pretend to be broke youngsters during your early courting days.
  • 9. Go fishing: An hour or two of chilling out with a fishing rod can be a great time to catch up, while (hopefully) catching your dinner.
  • 10. Visit the Zoo: Check out all your favourite animals, share how you used to visit the Zoo on your school excursions… And for once, take photos WITH each other, instead of OF each other.
  • 11. Go on a Shameless Selfie Adventure: The rule of the day: To take as many selfies together.
  • 12. Go Speed-dating: Ask each other the same questions you’d ask someone at a speed-dating event.
  • 13. Try something you'll never usually do: If your hubby is a durian lover but you’ve never touched the thorny fruit, get out of your comfort zone and try it for his sake.
  • 14. Write each other a love letter: ‘Forcing’ yourself to focus on this love task will help you remember all the sweetest moments that you have shared.
  • 15. Declare a 'Surprise Day': Your only rule – keep to the $20 budget.

"We only verify information and leave the yardsticks and judging to the users. The process of denying entry into HighBlood is also performed by existing users," he said.

"People do not want to waste time on unfavourable profiles. The time can be focused on conversations and chemistry between the users. The application will be as elitist as the users want it to be."

Mr Eng claimed that the app, which is expected to launch on iOS in two months, has more than 100 subscribers on the waiting list since December.

SOCIAL DISTANCE

Sociologist Tan Ern Ser said that in sociology, there is a scale called social distance, which "measures the extent to which we would accept someone who is different from us, say, in terms of race".

He added: "In a perfect world, race wouldn't matter at all. But in a less-than-perfect world, even multicultural ones, it can figure in our choice. But this is no reason to condone having an app that is explicit in its racism, whatever its degree may be."

Nanyang Technological University Associate Professor Md Saidul Islam said: "It's more of a cultural preference rather than a racial preference, and when it comes to dating, it could be important.

Read also: 7 ways online dating became more advanced in 2016

"They should re-articulate the whole notion, because now these people will be very insulted. People may have different preferences, but that doesn't make it right to insult other people."

Dr Michael Netzley, a social media expert, said: "If there is no proper decision-making criteria, the mob will just go with their instincts.

"People who are actually good may not meet these standards, and this will create a shallow community."

Undergraduate Chloe Tong, 23, a regular Tinder user, said: "What HighBlood is doing is nothing new or revolutionary. But what they are saying is tactless."


This article was first published on Mar 23, 2017.
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