Tinder is adding a new feature allowing users to run a background check on their date right from the app. The announcement came from Match Group on Monday, according to a report by GBR, and it could change online dating as a whole.
Match Group announced that it had invested in Garbo, which it describes as "a new kind of background check designed to help proactively prevent gender-based violence in the digital age. Once these two apps are integrated, Tinder users will be able to find out if their "matches" have a criminal record or a history of violence. According to Garbo, this information is drawn from "public records and reports of violence of abuse, including arrests, convictions, restraining orders, harassment, and other violent crimes."
These background checks are described as "low-cost," and they exclude arrests related to drug possession or traffic violations — in part because these disproportionately impact minority groups. According to a report by The Verge, these background checks will not be free. Match Group and Garbo are still negotiating a price scheme for users to run their checks without becoming cost-prohibitive.
"For far too long women and marginalized groups in all corners of the world have faced many barriers to resources and safety," said Match Group's Head of Safety and Social Advocacy, Tracey Breeden. "We recognize corporations can play a key role in helping remove those barriers with technology and true collaboration rooted in action. In partnership with Match Group, Garbo's thoughtful and groundbreaking consumer background check will enable and empower users with information, helping create equitable pathways to safer connections and online communities across tech."
Match Group also runs Match.com, Meetic, OkCupid, Hinge, Ship and PlentyOfFish, but so far they have not announced plans to integrate Garbo into other dating sites. The company said that background checks will be tested over the coming months and will most likely be available to all users by the end of the year. After that, it will start examining functionality with its other sites.
Online dating has become easier and more common than ever in recent years, but it has also opened the door for new forms of abuse. With apps like Tinder in particular, the question of anonymity is often the root of the problem, and users have been calling for something like Garbo for a while now to address it. However, if a user does not enter their real first and last name, the software may reportedly miss their background check.