Slack Doesn't Want People Using It for Romance

The work-chat platform has effectively shut down a dating bot designed for the office.

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It was always a long shot. As I wrote last week, the dating app Feeld recently released a bot for the work-chat platform Slack, which alerts users who mutually expressed romantic interest that they liked each other. Despite Feeld’s grandiose claims that using this bot would “make your organization more human” by encouraging people not to hide their crushes at work, it seemed unlikely that workplaces would really want to install this.

Slack, apparently, didn’t think so either. The company has decided not to list Feeld’s bot in its app directory. In its developer policy, Slack says it “will remove Apps that we consider to be inappropriate for use in the workplace or that negatively impact the user experience on Slack.” Dimo Trifonov, the founder of Feeld, told me in an email that this is the feedback he received from Slack as to why the app was rejected. Slack declined to comment further.

While Slack is oriented toward workplaces, people use the platform for other things—for groups of long-distance friends or as meeting places for people with similar interests. Feeld’s bot might be awkward in those contexts, but not inappropriate. “Negatively impacting the user experience” is a nebulous catch-all reason. And it seems like the only other directive in the policy Feeld might be in violation of is “Be a good fit for Slack teams,” which is also very vague.

“I could not see how it violates any of their rules,” Trifonov said. And he’s sticking to his guns as a supporter of workplace romances: “I work with my partner and from time to time we hug, kiss, and cuddle in working hours, and we thought that in 99.99 percent of companies such behavior is simply impossible. At the same time it felt so recharging, and actually impacted our productivity in a positive way. We felt so sad that people cannot see the workplace the same way we do.”

It’s still possible to install the app if you want—Slack hasn’t revoked Feeld’s access to its API—but you just can’t get it from Slack. If it was hard to imagine companies installing the app before, it’s even harder to imagine them taking the extra step to go to Feeld’s website and download it from there. By denying the app its seal of approval, Slack has likely stopped it in its tracks.

The invention of an online-dating bot for the workplace seemed to me to be the crossover point between two things that are creeping further and further into people’s lives: dating apps and work. When you can check your email—or your Slack—at any hour of the day, the boundary between work and life can become smudged to the point of nonexistence. And the swipe-y apps make dating so easy that it feels like you can, maybe should, be looking for love at all times. In a world like that, it was only logical that someone would eventually invent something like the Feeld bot. But Slack, it seems, still believes in some boundaries.