Tinder to Allow Users to Run Background Checks on Matches

Will background checks on Tinder put an end to fears of online dating danger?

Tinder app logo is displayed on a mobile phone screen photographed on Tinder website background.
Will background checks make dating apps feel safer?
Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

For years now, women have been preparing themselves for first dates with strangers from the internet by doing a brief Google investigation then just kind of hoping for the best. We stalk our date’s available social media for any obvious red flags, then go about our normal first date preparations — showering, putting on makeup, considering ghosting — all the while thinking to ourselves, “Haha, sure hope this guy doesn’t murder me, lol.” If you’re the type to engage in some witty pre-date banter, you might even text your date, “Haha, sure hope you don’t murder me, lol,” with a winky face so he knows you’re fun.

Eventually, you survive enough first dates that you start to assume it’s probably fine. But somewhere in the back of your mind, there’s always that lingering acknowledgment that this guy could be the one — either “the one” the one, or the one that finally kills you. Tinder, however, wants to help assuage those fears by implementing a new feature that will allow users to run background checks on their matches. The Match Group-owned dating app has announced it is partnering with Garbo, a nonprofit that seeks to allow people to run background checks on others using basic info like names and phone numbers. According to the Verge, Match Group has announced an investment in Garbo of an undisclosed amount that will grant Tinder users access to Garbo’s “public records and reports of violence or abuse, including arrests, convictions, restraining orders, harassment and other violent crimes.” The feature is expected to roll out on Tinder in the coming months, with plans to eventually be integrated into other Match Group properties like Hinge, OkCupid and Match.

With Garbo, Tinder users will have access to public records of abuse, violence and other criminal activity, though Garbo says it will not publicize drug possession charges. In a blog post last month, the monitoring firm said it would draw the line at drug possession disclosures as “an active stance toward equity,” noting that the “criminal justice system has been used to monitor substance possession in a way that promotes systemic inequality for decades,” citing research on the disproportionate percentage of Black people who are arrested for drug charges.

The background check feature will not be free, though Match Group is reportedly working with Garbo to figure out a way to keep the cost reasonably priced so the feature remains accessible to “most users.”

Of course, it’s worth noting that users who have reason to fear what a background check on them might reveal will simply have more incentive to make fake profiles, and while many online dating platforms have implemented new features in recent years designed to weed out fakes, it’s still not hard to lie on the internet. So, for the time being at least, it seems the time-honored tradition of wondering whether your Tinder date is going to kill you is safe.

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