The group behind Tinder and OkCupid doesn’t screen its users for sex offenses, according to a report published by Columbia Journalism Investigations and ProPublica. This is despite women suing the matchmaking platforms multiple times, saying they were raped by men using the dating apps with undisclosed criminal records.
The Match Group, which owns dating apps Tinder, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish, has settled multiple lawsuits on the promise that it would expand its vetting of users for violent crimes. But it still doesn’t sufficiently vet users on its free dating apps, the lawsuits allege. Only paid users on its website Match.com can rest assured that they won’t match anyone with a violent sexual history, as has repeatedly happened on its other services, according to the BuzzFeed report. (RELATED: Beto Laments That People In Rural Areas Can’t Use Tinder)
“There are definitely registered sex offenders on our free products,” Match Group said, according to BuzzFeed. The company added that it “takes the safety, security and well-being of our users very seriously,” and that “a relatively small amount of the tens of millions of people using one of our dating services have fallen victim to criminal activity by predators.”
The terms of service for Match Group’s free apps tell users it is up to them to vet their matches, but many do not. CJI investigated more than 150 reports of sexual assault involving dating apps and found that in 10 percent of the cases, the victim matched someone with who had been accused or convicted of sexual assault but did not disclose it on the app. While the vast majority of the cases happened on Match Group’s free apps, its premium service Match.com reportedly had none. (RELATED: Tinder-Rival Dating App Will Debut In The US)
Markham Erickson, a lawyer who argued for Match Group against requiring background checks, claims part of the problem is how difficult it is to effectively vet someone on a free app. Without requiring payment information, all a sex offender would have to do is is provide a fake name to pass a sex offender registry check, he told CJI.
Match Group did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The report comes weeks after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued Match Group, alleging it “conned” users on its free apps into purchasing premium Match.com accounts.
“We believe that Match.com conned people into paying for subscriptions via messages the company knew were from scammers,” said Andrew Smith, director of the FTC bureau of consumer protection, according to a press release. “Online dating services obviously shouldn’t be using romance scammers as a way to fatten their bottom line.”