A highly exclusive dating app is being accused of promoting class segregation, but the founder insists it's just about bringing people with similar interests together.
For singles looking to cast their net far and wide, there is no shortage of dating apps to trawl.
Tinder, Bumble, PlentyofFish, OKCupid, Happn, eHarmony, the list goes on and on.
These apps have become so popular, niche varieties are sprouting up too, looking for a slice of what has become very big business.
Tinder for instance — owned by Match Group — was last year valued at around $3 billion.
However, another dating app with a narrow focus is stirring outrage rather than curiosity.
It is called Toffee, and it’s the world’s first dating app for the privately-educated.
It restricts membership to those that attended a private school, and safeguards against public-schoolers infiltrating the app with “automated social media cross checks” as well as a “manual screening process”.
It asks you for the school you attended, and even charges both a sign-on fee and monthly subscription to give it that touch of exclusivity.
And while it has been described as “elitist”, “totally ridiculous”, and even a “social apartheid”, the app’s founder Lydia Davis says the controversy is worth it if it means her subscribers find their soulmates.
A dating agency: Toffee Dating aims to reinforce the social apartheid of modern Britain. Its founder calls it “a niche app that connects people who went to private school.” https://t.co/FnvU6gI5dn
— Gerry Hassan (@GerryHassan) April 11, 2018
Davis, a 36-year-old Londoner, told The Mirror it was designed only to help people find their perfect match, and she believes the odds of them finding that are enhanced with this criteria.
“Toffee is just about helping people meet and fall in love. It’s not supposed to be snobby or divisive. I just want to help people do their thing,” she said.
“It’s just another niche dating app — there are lots of other dating apps for normal people.
“But there are also apps specifically targeted at smaller groups. There’s one for finding a sugar daddy, one for Jewish daters.”
‘People from similar backgrounds are more likely to stick together’
Davis claims thousands of members of high-society have already signed up, such is the interest in the concept.
“Where you went to school is just another filter you can use to help you find the right person, as you’re more likely to share similar hobbies and interests based on where you studied,” she said.
“I know it might bring about lots of feelings but it’s not meant to offend anyone.
“Toffee is just a dating app for a group of people. We’re not trying to be snobby.”
Dating expert Persia Lawson told the BBC, the app is more likely to connect people of similar wealth than similar interests.
“If you have an open mind when using dating apps, it can be really quite interesting,” she says. “But this could mean you’re only going to meet people from the same background. The private school aspect makes it more about how wealthy your parents are, rather than your interests.”
“There are of course people who have those stereotypically ‘posh’ hobbies – polo, rugby, clubbing in Chelsea – who didn’t go to private school.”