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15 Mar, 2021 17:49

Swipe right, if you dare? Tinder parent company throws weight behind police background checks for dating apps

Swipe right, if you dare? Tinder parent company throws weight behind police background checks for dating apps

Online dating powerhouse Match Group, which owns and operates Tinder and other widely-used dating apps, will soon allow users to quietly run background checks on their dates with nothing more than a phone number or surname.

Match Group has announced a hefty (seven-figure) investment into nonprofit snoopware provider Garbo, throwing its considerable weight behind the technology on Monday with the supposed aim of keeping users safe. According to Match, the partnership is meant to allow users of its suite of online dating apps to run discreet background checks on their would-be partners with the aim of uncovering any violence or criminal history in the user’s past.

Garbo serves as a repository for “public records and reports of violence or abuse, including arrests, convictions, restraining orders, harassment, and other violent crimes,” as well as “manually submitted ‘police report(s), order(s) of protection / restraining orders, and other legal documents that report abuse, harassment, or other crimes.” 

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The company has struggled to distance itself from the accusations of racism that plague the US justice system, announcing last month that it would not publicize drug possession charges in order to take an “active stance toward equity.” 

The company last month released a statement explaining that drug possession charges don’t meaningfully predict gender-based violence.” The company last month released a statement explaining that “there is no link between drug possession and gender-based violence.

Neither will “traffic tickets besides DUIs and vehicular manslaughter” be included in Garbo’s background checks, since “race frequently affects a police officer’s decision to stop and ticket a motorist,” the platform said.

Garbo has urged curious users to educate themselves on their own time, curtly explaining that “if you’re looking for more information, we recommend listening to or reading the hundreds of podcasts, books, and studies highlighting the racial injustices seen throughout the criminal justice system.” Other than a citation of Michelle Alexander’s ‘The New Jim Crow’, however, Garbo did not include a reading list for those interested in the finer points of woke background-checking. 

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While running background checks on dates won’t be free, according to Match, the service will be “accessibly” priced, potentially becoming a feature included in one of Tinder’s subscription tiers. Match also owns and operates dating platforms OKCupid and Hinge, which will presumably be outfitted with Garbo’s background check feature should the integration with Tinder go successfully.

Match reportedly will not share its own users’ data with Garbo, suggesting Tinder or OKCupid users will have to proactively submit their date’s data to be scanned. While the popularity of such apps has in part rested on their anonymity, those interested in pursuing a lasting relationship will no doubt find the ability to dig into their partner’s past appealing – and such an ability would seem to open the door to requests for deplatforming users with criminal histories, whatever they may be.

The freedom of anonymity seems destined to collide with Garbo’s promise of safety while raising unpleasant questions about how much Big Brother really belongs in the bedroom.

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