The new features are expected to arrive at the end of January and they will be provided by the security app Noonlight, which Tinder’s parent company, Match Group, recently purchased a stake in. (The same features will appear on Match Group’s other dating apps, like OKCupid and PlentyOfFish, in the coming months.) The increased focus on safety comes as Tinder has faced criticism for not doing enough to protect users amidst reports of murders and sexual assaults that have happened as a result of connections made through dating apps.
“You should run a dating business as if you are a mom,” said Mandy Ginsberg, Match Group’s CEO. “I think a lot about safety, especially on our platforms, and what we can do to curtail bad behavior. There are a lot of things we tell users to do. But if we can provide tools on top of that, we should do that as well.”
The Noonlight features on Tinder will start with offering a profile badge, which Tinder CEO Elie Seidman compared to a lawn sign for a security system. Users will also be able to log certain details about their dates, such as the time, location and any information about the other person, which Noonlight will then share with authorities if the alarm is triggered.
In order for the alarm feature to work properly, however, users will have to allow Noonlight to track their location during the date. But, Ginsberg said, Noonlight would not share location data with Match Group, and it would not be used for marketing or other purposes.
The way Noonlight’s alarm system works is, once it’s triggered, users are asked to enter a code. If they don’t, a Noonlight dispatcher will text them. If a user doesn’t respond to that, they’ll receive a phone call. If the call is also ignored, or if at any point Noonlight gets confirmation that the person needs help, they’ll alert emergency services. As for the possibility of a false alarm, Ginsberg said, “[W]orst case someone shows up and knocks on the door.”
Along with the new Noonlight features, Tinder plans to roll out a new verification services to ensure that people actually look like the photos they upload. At the time, however, there doesn’t seem to be any plan to implement broader background checks to identify sex offenders as Tinder, being a free app, doesn’t require users to upload the necessary info (full name, billing address) to complete those checks. Tinder does, however, already remove users from the app if they’re identified as convicted sex offenders.