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It looks like love may have been fleeting for the new conservative dating app The Right Stuff. Funded by right-wing billionaire Peter Thiel, the startup performed solidly during its first two days in the App Store on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, generating roughly 6,000 and 7,000 downloads, respectively, according to estimates shared with The Daily Beast by analytics firms Sensor Tower and data.ai. Since then, interest has plummeted; estimated downloads stood at about 1,000 per day on Oct. 8, 9, and 10. As of midday on Wednesday, The Right Stuff’s ranking in the lifestyle section of the App Store had dropped to 160th place, according to Appfigures. Not helping matters: users and trolls—utilizing bogus names including “Big Chungas”—have carpet-bombed the startup with terrible reviews. It currently holds a rating of just 2.6 out of five, with more than 60 percent of its feedback considered negative. Numerous prospective users have complained of the invite-only design and the company’s slowness in approving new profiles, rendering the app unusable for some who downloaded it. In a public reply to one of the complaints in the App Store, The Right Stuff said it had implemented the invite system to weed out “the plethora of miserable liberal trolls.” Kathryn Hooks, a young conservative activist, told The Daily Beast that after the launch of the app she created an account but has not yet been granted access. “I have not been officially invited onto the app yet but was able to make a profile,” she said. Other users of The Right Stuff have complained that the app seems excessively thirsty for new members—perhaps even more than its competitors. One four-star rating grumbled about prompts “to invite people EVERY TIME I LOG ON. Like I have zero conservative friends who are single.” While numerous prospective daters did leave positive feedback celebrating the “conservative haven from heaven,” even some of the five-star ratings were insults in disguise. “I’ve found so many perfect women on here, and the best part [is] that they’re all white!” reads one satirical rating left on Oct. 7. “I found my current girlfriend on this app, and she is just perfect. We’ve been dating for 1 1/2 years now, but we’ve been related for 18.” Neither The Right Stuff co-founder John McEntee nor a representative for Thiel responded to requests for comment. A spokesperson for the app, meanwhile, thanked The Daily Beast “for highlighting the massive amount of downloads… we've received,” which they pegged at more than 32,000 since inception. The spokesperson also noted that users’ profiles still haven’t been “unlocked,” allowing them to match with each other, as the company continues to vet invitees. Even before its launch, The Right Stuff stirred skepticism. Multiple conservative women in the D.C. area—which the app initially targeted—told The Daily Beast they worried the startup might awkwardly match them with their existing right-wing connections. They also questioned whether the concept was even necessary. Other, larger companies already let users specify their political leanings.
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The jeering didn’t stop after launch day, when social media took notice of the app’s writing prompts for new users, including “a random fact I love about America,” “favorite liberal lie,” and “January 6th was...” At least one young conservative user remains concerned about what The Right Stuff will do about males on the app seeking “hookups” instead of romance. The Right Stuff ambassador Savannah Dudzik told The Daily Beast she hoped the app would ban users of that nature. Hooks disagreed, stating that the app shouldn't ban lustful users. “As far as ‘hookups’ go, I think that both the man and the woman should be upfront on the app if that's what they are looking for,” she said. “I don't agree with hookup culture, so if a man on the app was looking for that, I would not be interested.” A Right Stuff spokesperson addressed the hookup controversy saying, “No one will be purged from this platform unless they're using it in a harmful or misleading way.” Conservative pundit Carrie Sheffield, a senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum, once named among Bumble’s “most inspiring,” and mentor to many young conservative women in Washington, D.C., told The Daily Beast she thinks The Right Stuff might help its users find right-of-center partners, but she also warned against letting politics further divide people. “The more bipartisan couples we can have, that's great,” Sheffield said.