Opinion: Tinder’s new ‘safety’ feature not good enough

Dating apps have taken over the social media scene in the past 10 years. A recent survey conducted by radio station Triple J found that more than half of the respondents aged between 18 and 29 have used a dating app or website.  

Dating apps are popular tools for young people. Photo: Cottonbro, via Pexels

With more than 57 million users worldwide, Tinder is one of the most commonly used dating apps, but its features to keep women safe remain lacklustre.  

In Tinder’s most recent attempt to show concern for online harassment, an “Are You Sure?” or AYS feature has been issued for rollout across the app.  

The newest feature uses AI technology to screen messages being sent on the dating app and asks senders “Are You Sure?” if their message contains offensive material or material that has the potential to be considered harassment or bullying.   

While data for Australian Tinder users is hard to come by, a US-based study by the Pew Research Centre showed that six in 10 women had received some form of harassment on a dating app. This included receiving offensive messages after saying they were not interested in a potential match.  

There is still nothing stopping users from sending an offensive message on Tinder, leaving many women continuing to bear the brunt of online harassment or body shaming on dating apps.  

Tinder’s AYS feature also only screens the first few messages of a conversation, meaning that harassment or bullying that occurs once a conversation has already begun is fair game with no monitoring.  

Tinder has stated that early trials of the AYS feature show a decrease of 10% in the number of harassing messages sent on the platform. That leaves a whopping 90% of offensive messages to fall through the cracks.  

If messages can be monitored for offensive content, why do repeat offenders who send constant harassment not have their profiles removed by the app? 

A reminder to speak respectfully is not enough to stop individuals who prowl Tinder in an attempt to troll and bully unsuspecting women.  

In a time where online harassment and dating app usage seem to go hand in hand, even giving users the option to send hateful messages with no real ramifications for the sender is letting down every female user of Tinder.  

The AYS feature is yet another way for dating apps to feign concern with no genuine interest in the wellbeing of its users.  

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