Tinder now lets anyone background check matches, but experts are worried

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Dating has long been a stressful part of life, especially for women. In a move to protect those looking for love, Facebook-owned dating service Tinder has introduced a new feature: background checks. However, experts of both privacy and sexual violence crimes have expressed worry about the new features.

Tinder Background Checks

Reported by The Guardian, Tinder has partnered with Garbo to offer full background checks on its users to other users. The tool allows users to search up a user’s history of criminal offences by imputing their name, age and phone number.

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Users of the dating service will initially have access to two free background checks. Afterwards, they'll have to pay $2.50 per check. If a match is in Garbo’s database, users will be given the match’s history of criminal offences.

Background checks will be an easily accessible part of the dating app, at least in the regions its available in. In the app, a blue shield icon can be pressed. Then, in the Safety Center, there will be an option for Garbo.

Tinder states that this feature is intended to protect users, making sure that users feel safe meeting matches. However, multiple experts told The Guardian that the inclusion of background checks is misguided at best.

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Is this the wrong idea?

Experts told the outlet that Tinder’s inclusion of background checks could lead to more danger than before. They explained that the checks are “blunt force” tools that aren't as safe as they claim to be. While they do out those with a criminal history, they can also provide a false sense of security.

Albert Fox Cahn, founder of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, explained that only 310 of 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. He explained that background checks assume “that criminal justice involvement is a relevant risk factor in finding who will pose a danger in the future, but the vast majority of abusers have no criminal record.”

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Additionally, Cahn explained that background checks lead to discrimination against black people. As police forces discriminate against black and brown people, the number of recorded crimes for those groups are disproportionately higher than others.

“Tinder fails to recognize the way that all criminal history data in the US is irredeemably distorted by discrimination,” they said. “[This creates] a deeply biased view of who poses a ‘risk’ and who’s ‘safe’.”

Nicole Bedera, a doctoral candidate of gender and sexual violence, echoed these concerns. She told the outlet: “We really are talking about a small handful of people that have ever been convicted of one of these crimes. [This could] lead people to have a false sense of safety when they are not in fact safe. Something I would like to see Tinder do is work on a solution that we know actually does effectively prevent sexual violence: supporting comprehensive sex education in public schools.”