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The Short Version: Many dating app users are concerned about online safety, but the mainstream swiping scene has a lot of protections in place. Tinder is leading the charge against scams, harassment, and digital abuse with a growing suite of safety features. The app’s latest update includes new tools to block and report profiles, as well as an online safety education program for Tinder users.
No matter how you meet your partners, dating comes with some risks. You may encounter disappointment or heartbreak. You may waste your time going on dates that are just okay.
Then there’s the most serious risk, one that most people and all women are more than aware of: the risk that your partners will pose a threat to your safety and security.
Online dating creates its own specific dangers that occur, by definition, in the digital space. Online matches pose a risk in terms of phishing, romance scams, and digital harassment. While these hazards may not seem as scary as in-person dangers, they can pose real threats to your peace of mind and in some cases, your wallet.
Bad actors can crop up on any dating site or app, but they’re more prevalent on casual dating sites. “The more casual services can suffer from a lot of bot attacks,” Dan Winchester, Co-Founder of Scamalytics, an organization that works with dating sites to remove scammers, told me. “This might be because the nature of the interactions is quick and casual, and therefore a bot might have a better chance of engaging users without particularly standing out from genuine users.”
With over 530 million downloads since its launch in 2012, Tinder is a popular dating app that’s commonly used by casual daters, and the team is doing its part to protect its users. Tinder has always prioritized user safety, and the new safety upgrades aim to fix many of the issues users have run into with bots, scammers, and general bad actors.
“Safety is, and has always been, at the core of Tinder,” the company published in a press release. “In the last three years alone, Tinder has launched more than 15 safety features, and it now offers more than other dating apps.”
When I was single and dating around, I encountered several people — both in person and online — who made me uncomfortable in some capacity. Maybe it was something that they said on a date or a general intuition I had, but either way, I knew I no longer wanted to see them. It wasn’t necessarily that they had done something wrong, but I didn’t want them in my life.
Until recently, Tinder users have only been able to block profiles they report to the app for bad behavior. Sometimes that’s necessary. But you should also be able to avoid seeing people online without a reason or a clear indiscretion on their part. Or, if you do find yourself faced with a serious violation, whether by a scammer or someone harassing you, you should be able to share your story and report them on your own terms.
With Tinder’s new Block Profile feature, any user will be able to block profiles in the app, no questions asked. If you encounter a profile you think may be fake, you can block it. If someone says something that makes you uncomfortable, but you don’t feel like reporting them formally, you can just block them.
In cases of sexual assault or harassment, many victims remain silent because they aren’t ready to go through the reporting process. They may not think their attacker deserves to face punishment. But no matter what they think their victimizer deserves, they should at least have the option to cut off contact with them.
The same principle applies online. You may not be ready or want to report someone for bad behavior, but that doesn’t mean you need to keep coming across their profile.
One of the best ways to minimize the potential for online scams is to keep communicating with your potential partner on the platform on which you met. Scamalytics urges online daters to make good use of the messaging system provided by the dating service for as long as possible.
“These messaging systems are generally monitored for fraud,” Dan explained. “Once a scammer is discovered, they are blocked from further contact with any other potential victims. If someone wants to move you away from the dating service, you should see this as a possible red flag.”
Tinder’s chat systems have automatic monitoring for harassment on the app. Potentially harmful messages get flagged before you even see them. In 2021, the app launched the safety features ‘Does This Bother You?’ (DTBY?) and ‘Are You Sure?’ (AYS?), which encourages members to report harmful messages sent to them and step in before a message is sent. The programs will be “updated to include even more language that Tinder classifies as harmful or inappropriate, such as terms related to hate speech, sexual exploitation or harassment and are against its Terms of Service,” the team wrote.
Now, Tinder has made it easier than ever to report abusive language on the app with the release of Long Press Reporting. “Long press reporting lets people tap and hold offensive messages, launching the reporting flow directly in the chat experience,” the Tinder team shared. “By simplifying this flow, Tinder hopes more members will report bad behavior, allowing it to take appropriate action against accounts that violate the Community Guidelines.”
The app’s safety features encourage users to remain respectful and report those who don’t. Thus, Tinder makes it easier for users to keep their conversations on the app safe and protect themselves from scams and online threats.
When done right, dating online can be even safer than dating in person because you have so many tools to vet potential partners. You can get a good sense of who you’re dealing with from the comfort of your phone thanks to extensive safety features, access to public information on the internet, and time to feel out a new match’s personality before ever meeting in person. It can make finding someone you feel confident about so much easier.
Still, many users don’t know how to use safety features effectively. Tinder is set to launch its “Green Flags” program so they can understand and remember all of the safety tools they have access to through Tinder. “Members will begin seeing resources that highlight every safety touchpoint in the app, from onboarding, to pre-match, to post-match, and to meeting up in real life,” the team shared in the press release. The program helps users see not only potential red flags in their matches but also green flags that can help them to feel confident in their choice to meet up with someone new.
Most people trust their own judgment when it comes to meeting someone they match with online. They believe that their intuition and natural ability to spot bad actors will protect them from trouble. While your gut feelings may do a good deal to protect you, staying extra cautious online and when you first meet a new person doesn’t hurt. It’s a great way to make sure that online dating can remain a fun and easy way to meet new people.