Surprisingly enough, it seems dating apps might be something of a hotbed for shady behavior, including sex offenders preying on underage users.
With those suspicions in mind, a House subcommittee has launched a U.S. investigation into a variety of popular dating apps, including Tinder and Bumble, for potentially allowing minors and sex offenders to use their platforms.
Other online dating platforms under investigation include Grindr, The Meet Group and Tinder-owner Match Group, which also owns Match.com and OkCupid, according to the Associated Press.
The investigation by the U.S. House Oversight and Reform subcommittee on economic and consumer policy is seeking information on users’ ages, individual platforms’ procedures for verifying ages, as well as reports of any complaints about assaults, rape or the use of the services by underage users.
While the minimum age for using social media platforms is typically 13 in the U.S., online dating services generally require users to be at least 18. As anyone who has ever used the internet knows, however, the ability to check off a box “verifying” that you are 18 does not an 18-year-old make, meaning it’s not only possible but also potentially very likely that dating apps are filled with underage teens.
Naturally, concerns surrounding the potentially significant population of underage users on dating apps are heightened by the ease with which sexual predators can also access these platforms.
Part of the problem, as subcommittee head and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorth said in a statement, stems from reports that some dating apps permit sex offenders to use the free versions of the apps, only screening out such users in paid tiers. As Krishnamoorth argued, “Protection from sexual predators should not be a luxury confined to paying customers,” especially considering it stands to reason that underage teens would be among the dating app users least likely to be willing or able to fork over cash for a sexual-predator-free upgrade.
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.”
The investigation comes on the heels of a recent report by a Norwegian consumer group accusing dating apps including Grindr, OkCupid and Tinder of leaking personal user information to advertisers.
Despite being among the biggest months for online dating, it seems January was a tough one for dating apps this year.
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