Volume 94, Number 4

October 2019

Antitrust and Commitment Issues: Monopolization of the Dating App Industry

Evan Michael Gilbert

The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have largely abdicated their role to scrutinize and challenge mergers in zero-priced industries. This abdication derives from a Chicago School assumption that concentration in these industries will not lead to consumer harm. Due to the agencies’ hands-off approach to merger review, the digital economy is rapidly concentrating as firms are permitted to acquire their competitors with no meaningful antitrust supervision. Increased consolidation of ownership is evident in the dating app industry. One firm has acquired twenty-five rival dating apps in the past decade and now operates over forty-five distinct dating sites, including Tinder, OkCupid, and Hinge. In this Note, I argue that increased concentration and decreased competition in the dating app sector can lead to three types of consumer harm: price discrimination, deterioration of quality, and reduced data privacy.