News & Opinion | February 21, 2020 11:51 am

Congress Wants Dating Apps to Do More to Keep Sex Offenders Off Their Platforms

Tinder-owner Match Group has received a letter from 11 members of Congress

Dating apps sex offenders
Congress wants Match Group to start screening for sex offenders
Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Popular dating apps like Tinder have recently announced new safety features such as a photo verification system and AI-based screening for inappropriate messages, but Congress wants apps to do more to keep users safe from sexual predators on these platforms.

Tinder-owner Match Group, Inc., which also owns other popular dating apps including Hinge, Plenty Of Fish, and OkCupid, received a letter from 11 members of Congress urging the company to start screening for sex offenders, Jezebel reported. The letter primarily criticizes the company’s failure to check its user base against sex-offender registries.

“A review of the terms of service for Tinder, Hinge, Plenty Of Fish, and OkCupid shows that you already ask users to certify that they are not required to register as sex offenders. The failure to cross reference all user responses with sex offender registries is deeply concerning,” the Congress members wrote in the letter. “While the names you check against registries will not be accurate in all circumstances, and this due diligence will not prevent all register sex offenders from using your platforms, it may disincentivize some dangerous individuals from using them and thereby provide a basic level of protection for users.”

The letter follows a January report by ProPublica, Buzzfeed and Columbia Journalism Investigations alleging that popular dating apps allow sex offenders and minors to use their platforms. The report subsequently prompted a House subcommittee to launch a U.S. investigation into dating apps’ enforcement of age restrictions and related policies.

In a statement, Match Group said it uses “every tool possible” to keep minors and bad actors off its services. The company also noted that the responsibility is shared with other parties, including app stores that know who their users are and need “to do their part as well.”

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