Tinder has boosted its safety features, but questions remain over the popular dating app’s commitments to helping women who’ve been targeted by sexual predators.
Match Group, who owns a number of online dating platforms including Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish and Match.com, released a statement explaining it had “heard from survivors” and is “acting” on concerns.
“If members submit a report, we respond in-app or via email, directing them to trained resources for crisis counselling and survivor support,” the statement read.
“This response was written in partnership with external safety experts in the fields of preventing sexual violence and sex trafficking, law enforcement and LGBTQ+ advocacy.”
It comes after ABC’s Triple J Hack and Four Corners programs highlighted how an alarming number of Australians had been sexually assaulted or harassed by people they met on Tinder.
Condemned in the investigation was Tinder’s controversial ‘unmatch’ function that abusers have used to erase evidence and remain active on the app.
The statement by Match Group did not discuss whether there were any changes made to the unmatch feature, but did confirm it was still able to retrieve messages if the feature was used.
“If you are sexually assaulted by anyone you’ve met on our platforms, and the assailant unmatches you, we are still able to access those messages and work with law enforcement if reported to us.”
More than 400 survivors shared their stories of sexual assault and harassment with the Hack team following a public appeal, and of those, 231 had met their abusers on Tinder.
The investigation found that only 11 of the 48 survivors who reported an offence to Tinder received a response from the app, and the responses were all generic.
Critics have blasted the app for abandoning survivors and neglecting their duty of care to ensure repeat offenders, like serial rapist Glenn Hartland who raped three women he met on Tinder, were removed form the app.
One survivor named Brooke had been on three dates with a man she met on Tinder before he raped her.
Brooke said she couldn’t report the assault to police because her attacker had unmatched her.
“This was the only way to identify who he was and what he did … and he just completely erased any evidence of himself,” Brooke said.
“That was probably the main reason that I didn’t go to the police because I didn’t have his number, I didn’t know his last name.”
It was completely heart-wrenching because there was no proof that we had even spoken to each other.”
Another survivor, Emily, was raped by a man she met on Tinder and was disappointed to learn her attacker had a long history of harassing women on the app.
“Halfway through when he was assaulting me, he picked up his phone from the table and said, ‘just hold on, I just need to take some photos’. He kept his hand holding me down as I tried to squirm and get out of the camera lens,” Emily said.
She also found Tinder’s reporting process to be difficult and pointless.
“I remember it took me a long time even trying to find how to report someone.
“I wrote down his occupation and said, ‘This man is dangerous. This man is a threat and will hurt people if given the chance’,” she said.
“I just got an automated response, just a refresh of the page saying, ‘Thanks for submitting’. I never heard anything else.
“It makes me mad that this platform is making money off the people who are being hurt, and then they can’t even respond properly when people are hurt. What are you doing with your money?”
The underwhelming response
Match Group has revealed it will meet with Australian law enforcement to address concerns raised in the investigation.
“We will be reaching out to federal and state law enforcement and safety officials across Australia to set up meetings with our Safety and Legal teams so we can better explain the tools and resources we have dedicated to helping their efforts,” Match Group’s statement read.
Match Group also provided an email address that law enforcement could contact to discuss specific queries, but Australian officials believe the response is underwhelming.
Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said he met with Match Group, but their promise to amend their in-app safety policies seemed vague.
“It’s all very well for them to give that high-level commitment but we need to see that actually be delivered on – when a victim, usually a young woman goes to police and complains or reports a sexual assault, we need to see the practical cooperation from them,” Mr Fletcher told Hack.
- Victims of sexual assault can find help and support through 1800 RESPECT online here or by calling 1800 737 732