Major dating sites such as Tinder, Bumble, and Grindr are being investigated by United States authorities. There over concerns that minors and predators are commonly using these services.
Gizmodo reports on the investigation from the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy.
Match Group, The Meet Group, New Grindr LLC, and Bumble Trading all received letters that outlined the issues that the committee has with them. All of these companies offer services that help members of the public be introduced to each other.
The investigation started following reports that it was common practice for teenagers to sign up for apps and lie about their age. Several 16 or 17-year olds would simply register their age as 18.
Thereafter, no checks would be done to actually ensure this was their real age. Within the letter sent to the dating companies, there are claims that in some cases, they encourage underage users to falsely state their age as being older than they are.
Additionally, the investigation is looking into reports that the groups are irresponsibly sharing selling or sharing user data.
Moreover, since there are minors on the sites, there are higher risks of sexual predators taking advantage of vulnerable groups. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, chairman of the subcommittee on economic and consumer policy spoke about the serious concerns of these services.
He states that dating apps aren’t doing enough to curb both practices from underage users and sexual offenders. Altogether, he feels that more screening practices should be conducted.
“Our concern about the underage use of dating apps is heightened by reports that many popular free dating apps permit registered sex offenders to use them, while the paid versions of these same apps screen out registered sex offenders,” Krishanamoorthi said, as reported by Gizmodo.
“Protection from sexual predators should not be a luxury confined to paying customers.”
A new approach
These sites do have strict policies to prevent underage users. However, in most cases, there aren’t actually any effective measures in place to prevent them from signing up.
In reality, the security procedures are mostly reactive rather than preventative. This is because the apps often rely on other users reporting minors using the app after they’ve created a profile.
Tinder had recently implemented new systems to help its verify users and help other users out of sensitive situations. It remains to be seen how effective this procedure will be. Nonetheless, more could be done by apps across the board to tighten security.
Technology companies have an important role to play when it comes to security. Especially when their platforms enable strangers to meet each other. As a leading tech firm, Microsoft is taking further responsibility to tackle online grooming with Project Artemis.
Once the software is implemented, there will be more chance that online criminals will be detected, addressed and reported.
Tech such as this could be implemented by these dating sites to help reduce risks to minors. Furthermore, simple screening procedures would go a long way in preventing serious issues.
Do you think that these dating apps should be doing more to ensure the safety of underage citizens? Let us know what your thoughts are in the comment section.