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Digital Dating's Latest Wrinkle: Instant Background Checks

Young man and woman's hands holding smart phones with hearts floating over
By Richard Dahl on March 19, 2021 8:54 AM

The Tinder dating app has allowed countless lonely souls to meet each other with mere rightward swipes on a phone screen. Soon, the service will be making it easier to identify potential trouble in a prospective date.

Tinder's parent company, Match Group, recently announced that it will be partnering with Garbo, a background checking platform to provide the service. Match said the service won't be free; customers will be able to add it for a fee when it becomes available later this year.

Initially, it will be offered on Tinder. Match's other dating services – OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, and Hinge – will offer it later.

“This is an industry first,” Match Group safety head Tracey Breeden told Axios. “There have not been any background check options in the dating industry.”

Reducing Risk

Anyone who's searched for Mr. or Ms. Right via digital dating knows it's a practice that comes with some risk.

In 2019, an investigation by ProPublica found registered sex offenders on Match Group's free platforms. That revelation prompted 11 members of Congress to send a letter to Match Group president Shar Dubey, saying more must be done to protect users from sexual predators.

In January 2020, Tinder added a “panic button” and a photo verification feature to prevent “catfishing,” when someone used a fake identify online.

Criminal Records Won't Include Drug Possession

Kathryn Kosmides, Garbo's CEO, says that people will be able to know whether the person they are interested in meeting has a criminal record or other court actions such as restraining orders. She says, however, that the information will not include drug possession, which tends to be enforced against marginalized groups and, she says, has no link to gender-based violence.

Digital dating is probably scarier than the traditional kind (which can be scary enough), so any tools to ease the strain are great to have. The Match Group hasn't announced what the new service will cost, but it does seem like a good investment for those seeking to find that perfect partner.

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