How Dating Apps Deal With Sexual Assault Complaints


NEW YORK – Interest in online dating peaked at a five-year high this summer, according to Google Trends, which tracks popular user search requests.

But one recent report by ProPublica and Columbia Journalism The online dating companies found are not necessarily equipped to appropriately deal with user complaints related to sexual assault allegations.

“They were just crazy to get meaningful responses from victims who reported abuse on their apps,” said Carrie Goldberg, a Brooklyn lawyer specializing in sexual privacy violations.

Goldberg consulted on the ProPublica report, which found that dating platforms often hire poorly paid “content moderators” to respond to sexual assault complaints. These employees have no specific training and must respect hourly quotas.

“A content moderator is supposed to, you know, on average one to four minutes, deal with a user who says I just got sexually assaulted by someone using your platform that you basically told me about. presented, “Goldberg said.

The report also uncovered a pattern of unanswered complaints or one-size-fits-all responses, which Goldberg said can traumatize victims a second time.

“If you have millions of users… there are going to be sexual assault complaints,” Goldberg said. “And it’s shocking if a platform doesn’t have a very good way to deal with it from day one.”

The majority of online dating platforms are owned by Match Group – including Match, OkCupid, Tinder, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, and Our Time – accounting for around 90% of the online dating market. Bumble is the second most popular dating app and is not owned by Match Group.

“Bumble, by far, is one step ahead of other apps,” Goldberg said. “We just found them to be much more responsive. ”

Whatever the platform, where there is a will, there is a way.

“We’ve seen, even within Match Group, that if someone is banned from a Match product, like OkCupid, they could create a profile on Tinder,” Goldberg explained.

But it’s rare for a company to be held legally responsible for a user’s offline actions. Goldberg attributes this in part to an oft-cited part of the Federal Communication Decency Act 1996 – Section 230 – which protects website hosts from claims related to user posted content.

“It’s really amazing that an entire industry is not responsible for its product,” Goldberg said. “Even the gun industry, if their product malfunctions, if a gun blows up in your face, you can still sue the gun company.”

PIX11 has contacted Bumble and Match Group for comment.

Match Group declined to give an interview or answer questions. Instead, the company asked us to it’s security policies, which include an online network of tools to detect fraud, verify user identity and report inappropriate behavior. Match Group said each brand has a strong customer service team that reports serious breaches to a centralized security repository.

Bumble answered questions from PIX11. The company told us that its default policy is to believe the victim or survivor and immediately ban the accused from the platform while it investigates. Bumble said any harassment or assault complaints are channeled to its dedicated security support team, who can also provide advice on counseling services and law enforcement.

Bumble later noted that he teamed up with Bloom, a non-profit organization fighting gender-based violence, to provide free online trauma support.

Goldberg, however, is not quite sold. “Don’t trust the app,” she said. “Don’t think they’re doing anything to stop predators and attackers from being there.”

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