- Siona McCallum
- BBC News, technology reporter
Protecting women from abuse is now “at the center” of Tinder’s priorities, the world’s largest dating app said.
The technology company has partnered with the organization No More (No More), with the aim of combating gender violence.
“Our work in security matters never ends”Tinder’s first female CEO, Renate Nyborg, explained to the BBC.
However, from the organization End Violence Against Women (Let’s end violence against women) they described the measures taken by Tinder as a “small step” to address the disproportionate amount of abuse women experience online.
Tinder has been widely criticized for the abuses women suffer through its service and there are also concerns that it, as well as other similar applications, are being used by sexual predators.
Nyborg, 36, revealed that one of the measures taken to prevent violence against women has been to hire more women in the company.
The board reported that the company’s female staff has increased by 30% since he assumed the reins of the company, in September 2021.
“I believe that there is a difference between knowing something and having lived it“, he told the BBC.
“Like any woman, I can recount all the experiences I’ve had with men and the ones I haven’t wanted to have: from the way they talk to you, through the way they treat you at work, to the things that happen when you’re looking for a partner. I think that all women have had many similar experiences, and I believe that there is strength in unity,” she said.
End Violence Against Women director Andrea Simon said it is essential that dating apps like Tinder take action to tackle abuse.
“Dating apps are a very popular way for people to meet,” he said, warning that “there is concern that abusers and predators are using these apps to meet potential victimswhich has led to an increase in reports of rape against women using these dating tools.”
Simon welcomed Tinder’s new security features, though he warned that “they don’t go far enough to address abuse and rape threats.”
“Technology companies like Tinder benefit from a business model that ignores the abuses facilitated by their services. It is essential that they guarantee the safety of their users,” the activist concluded.
The partnership between Tinder and No More is expected to curb abuse and threats against women through the dating app.
The alliance’s first move will be to produce a program to educate app users on safe dating.
No More will also train Tinder staff.
“We believe that positive relationships start with the first contact. The way you interact with someone, literally from the very first message, can set the tone for the relationships you have,” Nyborg said.
For her part, the executive director of No More, Pamela Zaballa, explained to the BBC that “it is very important that Tinder makes sure that it is educating its users, not just warning them of bad behavior.”
“We understand the challenges women have – that’s the crux of what we do – but I think security in general should be a top priority for Tinder and not just for women, but for anyone who uses the app,” Zaballa added.
Dating apps have no legal obligation to protect their users.
Tinder has launched a number of security services in the last year. Thus, abusive and harmful messages are now automatically detected, and the senders are asked “Are you sure?” (that you want to send an inappropriate text) and to the recipients “Does this bother you?” (which you just received).
“We’ve seen a 50% increase in the number of people reporting things they don’t like,” Nyborg told the BBC.
“Are you sure?” for his part, has helped reduce inappropriate messages by 10%as shown by data from Match Group – which owns Tinder, Match.com, Meetic, OkCupid, Hinge and Plenty of Fish.
“We have always invested in making our tools and technologies reliable and secure,” Nyborg said.
“But since I became CEO, we have started to make trust and safety the center of some of our advertising campaigns,” he said.
In the US, Tinder’s security center offers background checks for couples, thanks to an alliance with the Garbo organization.
For its part, the National Rape, Abuse and Incest Network has developed a way to report former offenders who appear on a match list.
Users can also use a panic button.
“We have been very impressed with the acceptance of verification,” said Nyborg.
“In the months that it has been in operation, we have seen that nearly half of our affiliates self-select, to verify themselves – The good thing about this is that it is a security element,” added the directive.
But Derrian Douglas, a 24-year-old New Jersey resident who met her boyfriend on Tinder, said the security features could be better designed.
“Before going on a date, I tell at least two friends where I’m going and I have a keyword with them. I also activate WhatsApp geolocation: it’s all a procedure,” he explained.
An investigation by a BBC team for the documentary “Three Dating’s Dangerous Secrets” yielded the following statistics:
- 37% of dating app users have reported someone for inappropriate behavior.
- 63% have felt uncomfortable on a date initiated through a dating app.
- 33% have experienced harassment or abuse on those dates.
Many young women worry about meeting people in real life “especially when they get invited to ‘Netflix and chill’ and stuff like that,” revealed dating coach Alexis Germany.
Germany offered users of Tinder and other dating apps the following list of recommendations to ensure their safety:
- Meet in a public space on the first date.
- Do not let anyone call you to pick you up.
- Never give out personal information that identifies you, such as your address.
- Inform someone you know where you are going.
- Activate location services on your phone.
Now you can receive notifications from BBC World. Download the new version of our app and activate it so you don’t miss out on our best content.