Tinder launches ‘panic button’ to combat catfishing

In an effort to combat catfishing (and worse) on its platform, Tinder has developed an alarm that will alert the emergency services and flag your date on the platform.

 

 

The unfortunate reality is that not clicking with your match isn’t the worst outcome of a tinder date. A 2019 investigation jointly led by ProPublica, BuzzFeed, and Columbia Journalism Investigations found more than 150 instances of sexual assault stemming from dating apps, with 10% involving those previously accused or convicted of sexual assault.

In an effort to afford users peace of mind, Tinder has introduced a new panic button and other safety features to crack down on “catfishing” and to help prevent physical harm. 

Collaborating with Noonlight, a personal safety app, the panic button is available to users in the US beginning today. Pressing the panic button during the date will prompt Tinder to contact emergency services with the user’s location data, as well as details the Tinder user has uploaded about the date prior to meeting up.

Another safety feature among those being introduced is photo verification. Designed to deter catfishing, Tinder users will be able to upload real-time selfies the app can then use to verify their profile with a blue checkmark if successful, signalling to other users that the profile has been verified.

 

Pressing the panic button during the date will prompt Tinder to contact emergency services with the user’s location data, as well as details the Tinder user has uploaded about the date prior to meeting up.

 

This is all well and good, but is it a total step in the right direction? As first reported by Gizmodo, it might not be. Tinder confirmed to Gizmodo via email that Tinder users will need to download the separate, free Noonlight app to enable the new safety features within Tinder. Free apps don’t have the cleanest track record when it comes to handling data, and Noonlight’s app is no exception. Facebook and YouTube are among the ‘unnamed’ third parties obtaining information through Noonlight via network traffic.

Noonlight denied the accusation that they sell user information to these companies and more, but eventually did admit that they do work with them, albeit without financial exchange. It should also be noted that Tinder has been sharing user data with Facebook long before the integration with Noonlight.

In Noonlight’s defence, there are plenty of trustworthy third parties that should have data gleaned from the app (emergency services would do well to have your name, phone number, location, health info etc.). Facebook and Google aren’t part of that group though, and the information can be used for much more than ad targeting. 

Tinder’s parent company, Match Group, plan to roll these features out on their other dating platforms (PlentyOfFish, OkCupid, Hinge) this year. They are yet to comment on when or even if the functions will be available globally.

 

 

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