Tinder Is Going To Start Offering Background Checks On Potential Matches

by Erica Gerald Mason
Scary Mommy and SOPA Images/Getty

In an effort to keep its users safe the platform will help people learn about the prospective matches they meet on the app

After the shocking abduction and killing of Sarah Everard in the UK, the conversation about women’s safety has been happening in a much-needed public forum. In an effort to address security, the dating app Tinder, together with its parent company Match Group, is collaborating with a nonprofit named Garbo to assist customers in finding out if their prospective dating partner has a criminal record.

Most folks know very little about the person they have just encountered online. Garbo allows people to find out if someone they are interacting with has a criminal record or other court proceedings, like a restraining order.

“Omg i’m SO happy @Tinder is finally going to start helping users get background checks for criminal records on matches,” a Twitterer wrote. “I have some incredible stories i could share, and let’s just say this is long overdue for the safety of not only women, but every user on this dating app”.

Match will make a substantial “seven-figure” donation to Garbo, enabling it to hire engineers and rapidly accelerate its national expansion. The group intends to have Garbo’s service integrated into Tinder later this year, but details still need to be finalized. After the initial rollout, Match expects to make Garbo usable within its other dating services.

“This is an industry first,” says Match Group safety head Tracey Breeden. “There have not been any background check options in the dating industry.”

“Today, it is easier for stalkers to find your home address online than it is to find whether someone has records of gender-based violence,” a Twitter user posted. “@kathrynkosmides is changing this with her nonprofit @garbo_io, which announced its partnership with @Tinder today.”

Kosmides explained the service’s reports contain information of preliminary charges, as they usually get watered down as part of a plea bargain. They exclude drug possession and other charges that tend to be disproportionately imposed against marginalized groups. “Our mission is trying to find the balance between protection and privacy,” Kosmides said.

The move by Match is part of a bigger initiative by the dating company to reconsider safety beyond its services. Late last year, Match teamed with the Rape and Incest National Network (RAINN) to audit the company’s assault prevention systems. The company has also hired its first head of safety and social advocacy.

While appreciative of the measures, some Twitter users wonder if the criminals won’t use their legal name- thereby circumventing a background check.

“Hey, @tinder, @garbo_inc, what’s this? how is this gonna work for trans people, or people who don’t use their legal name? this has the potential to out people our open them up to abuse if not done well,” a Twitter user posted. “With tinder’s track record, i’m not optimistic.”

As the details of the partnership are finalized, here’s hoping Match and Garbo will find a way to stay a step ahead of violent jerks who might use the app to prey on women.