Tinder is rolling out a panic button for dates that take a dangerous turn.
In a bid to lessen the potential risk of meeting with strangers, the popular matchmaking app also will give users the option to log in date details and share location data. The new safety features come as dating sites, Tinder among them, have been criticized for not being more responsive to bad actors on their platforms used by tens of millions of Americans.
Tinder’s parent company, Match Group, is partnering with Noonlight, an app that uses location data to connect people with emergency responders. Starting Tuesday, Tinder users can add a badge to their profiles that show they are “protected by Noonlight” and enter information about an upcoming date. Though Noonlight cautions that it is not a replacement for 911, it says it is an option in situations when a person can’t talk or text, or isn’t comfortable dialing 911.
“As a company we’ve made great strides in building technology that our users can use to have a safer experience,” Match Group Chief Executive Mandy Ginsberg said in a statement. “But this is an ongoing process, and as new technology and products develop in this area that we can adopt, we will continue to evolve.”
Singles around the world have stories about dates gone bad. But dating sites have been under scrutiny for how they protect users — or don’t — from predators and sexual harassment. And while registered sex offenders are banned from Match Group’s platforms, those apps don’t conduct background checks on all users. (Many apps like Tinder don’t require people to enter their full names and billing addresses, which are used for identifying sex offenders, Ginsberg told The Wall Street Journal.)
More than 40 million Americans use online dating services or apps, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. But it’s unclear how many people have been harmed through connections made on such platforms. The network provides a list of signs singles should look out for on its website.
Tinder users who add Noonlight to their profiles can enter information about a meetup, such as who they are meeting with and where they’ll be. Once they’re on the date, users can hit a panic button, and Noonlight will prompt them to enter a code. If the user doesn’t follow up, a text will come through from Noonlight. If there’s no response, Noonlight will put in a call. And if users doesn’t answer, or otherwise confirm that there’s an emergency, Noonlight dispatches the authorities.
Tinder’s earlier safety efforts focused on monitoring messages and using machine learning to screen for harmful language and photos. Tinder also is testing a photo verification tool to ensure every person on the platform is who they say they are.
Users must give permission for Noonlight to track their locations. Ginsberg told The Wall Street Journal that Noonlight won’t transfer that data to Match Group or use it for marketing.
Other apps under Match Group’s umbrella include OkCupid, Match, Hinge and PlentyofFish, the company plans to expand its safety features beyond Tinder over the next few months. The company would not disclose the size of its investment in Noonlight.
“Meeting a new person can be an anxiety-inducing event for a myriad of reasons,” Noonlight co-founder Nick Droege said in a news release. “In working closely with Match Group brands, our goal is to make sure safety isn’t one of those reasons.”