Following a recent partnership with campaign group No More, dating app Tinder has announced that keeping women safe is now “at the heart” of the company.
Tinder’s first female chief executive has come forward stating that their ‘safety work is never done’, with Renate Nyborg going on to say that her approach to prioritising women’s safety is to implement measures at all stages of the business.
Nyborg has worked to increase the number of women the company employs by 30% since taking up the role in September 2021, citing her own personal experiences as reasons why she feels that work need not only be known to be done but to be felt to have been done.1
Dating apps, while offering positive experiences for some users, have long been treated as a playground for abusive messages and threats, with 37% of dating-app users reporting experiences of inappropriate behaviour. Reported numbers of rapes relating to dating apps have increased significantly in recent years and it is worried that such apps are being used to accommodate and encourage abusive individuals. Dating apps are frequently criticised for ultimately profiting off a business model that ignores the abuse that they facilitate.
Dating apps have no legal duty of care to their users. Various groups and advocates have been calling on the government to reassess this as more and more women and girls are finding themselves in the hands of abusers as a result of using such dating apps. Amendments to the Online Safety Bill have been suggested, but the legislation has been placed on pause now until the autumn when a new prime minister will be in place.
Companies such as Tinder have been introducing more safety measures to their apps. For example, they have implemented an algorithm which detects abusive messages, senders of which are then asked, ‘Are you sure?’ before the message can be sent. Additionally, recipients of such messages are now asked ‘Does this bother you?’, to which they can choose to report the sender straight away. Match Group, the owners of many popular dating apps including Tinder, Match.com, and Hinge, have reported a 50% increase in recipients reporting messages as a result of the new algorithm.
Furthermore, other countries such as the US are making background checks easier and more thorough by partnering with non-profit organisations which specialise in such checks. Match Group has partnered with non-profit female and survivor founded organisation Garbo to allow app users to easily access public information regarding arrests, convictions, and registers. This has even extended to working with Rape and Incest prevention and support organisations to allow previous survivors of abuse to report their former abusers to allow for more accurate and wider checks. Additionally, ID verification has been introduced as an optional fill-in when creating an account on the US version of Tinder. Reports have found that almost half of new users have voluntarily verified themselves.2
However, the charity, End Violence Against Women, who have frequently called out the disproportionate amount of abuse faced by women online, have said that this is all only a ‘small step’ in addressing the problem. It remains normal to see headlines about police investigations into app users and dating-app-horror-stories despite increased protective measures being implemented. Only this month, reports have been shared of a possible British police officer being found on Tinder posing half-naked while wearing their official uniform.3 Additionally, news articles relating to male users’ extensive list of demands for a partner, or their interesting choice of chat-up lines, are commonplace in modern media.4
Users of these apps, while supportive of the changes, have reiterated the need for fellow users to take care and be cautious, despite new safety measures. One user from Middlesborough shared concerns over people becoming more lenient over who they may talk to, or agree to meet up with, due to over-reliance on the app’s safety features. Reminders have been posted online to ensure people are still protecting themselves by not accepting messages from people they normally wouldn’t on the preface that all users must now be safe.
Furthermore, in recent weeks Renate Nyborg has since stepped down from their role as CEO of Tinder despite their apparent push to implement change within the company. This comes as parent company Match Group announced shake ups across the group’s management, as well as retracting plans to expand the company’s digital footprint into the world of AI and cryptocurrency.5
Moreover, while the changes and additions to dating apps in recent months have been widely praised, it has all come with the caveat that not all is safe quite yet. Users should continue to take caution when using dating apps, this includes all users, not just female users. Blocking, reporting, and identifying abusers has become easier and more widespread but it is not a total guarantee that all these apps’ users are safe. While women remain at any risk of abuse there will always be more that can be done.
Written by Leah Harris