No. 1 dating app Tinder finally adds safety features

Taylor McDaniel, Contributor

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Don’t victim blame, but do app blame. 

Dubbed the Safety Center, Tinder made new safety features available to users starting Jan. 28, according to CNN

The tools will be localized to most other markets later in the year. The dating conglomerate of Match Group, owning Tinder, OkCupid, Hinge and the flagship Match.com, will release the features to its other services further into 2020. 

In order to use the Safety Center, a user must download a different app entirely, Noonlight, a safety platform Match Group has a stake in. Location-tracking tools must be turned on for Noonlight during the date, though the platform claims it does not sell data from its users, and Tinder itself will not have access to the information.

Similar to supplying an address to a trusted companion, Tinder participants can add the time and location of a date to a new “Tinder Timeline” tool, shareable with friends. 

If a date has bad vibes, a user can press a panic button within Noonlight, signaling dispatchers on the app. A text is sent first so the user can silently interact with a dispatcher. If the message is unanswered, a code will be sent and a call will be made. If there still isn’t an answer, Noonlight will send emergency services to the location provided from the timeline. 

Tinder also has plans to enlist a photo verification tool as well — most of us know what that blue check mark signals from Twitter and Instagram, or even Bumble, another trending dating app. 

The last planned feature, as head-shaking as the need for it is, “Does this bother you?” will allow users to report offensive messages, even receiving prompted notifications from AI asking the former question. Not only will AI ask if someone if they are distburbed, but will warn senders if their message has potentially inappropriate content. 

No doubt this is a commendable act, hopefully providing relief to those who are just trying to date in a digital world and possibly stopping a situation before it turns from uncomfortable to deadly. However, like my friends at Forbes, there is hesitancy toward giving the corporation 100% credit. 

As many other news organizations, such as BuzzFeed News, have pointed out, these features fail to include screening of users, allowing those with a history of sexual crimes to roam the app. 

In fact, in December 2019, BuzzFeed News, Columbia Journalism Investigations and ProPublica reported Match Group had no policy in place to screen nonpaying members in all of the popular dating avenues it owns. 

Clearly dating has been a cause of worry in Michigan, as a study completed by ASecureLife.com in 2019 revealed “Is it safe to date?” was googled more than any other “is it safe to” question throughout the state. 

Predators have existed long before the age of the internet and apps, so it’s no surprise people are cautious — they have a reason to be. What is surprising, to me, is how long it has taken for these safety features to be put into place through the many websites and apps Match Group has. 

It’s also nothing groundbreaking. 

Nail polish can detect if a drink has been roofied, “angel shots” can be code for help at bars and there have been other apps designed to keep people safe on dates. 

It’s also not the point. 

Sure, we cannot be naive and ignore these precautions because it’s not realistic, but the fact of the matter is that societal education and higher standards should come first. 

Match Group is trying, and I know change takes time, but I’m also tired of giving credit to corporations and celebrities and companies who are simply doing the bare minimum. 

Aren’t you?