The next time you sign up for a free dating app and get a message from a handsome guy or gal, you may need to wonder if they’re a sexual predator. According to shocking reports published in GQ, Match Group (who owns Tinder and many other dating platforms) does not scan or screen for sex offenders for its free products. Social Catfish investigates the real-world dangers of sex offenders on Tinder.
What is Tinder?
Tinder is considered (one of ) the most popular dating app(s) in the United States with a reported user base of over 50 million. It is free with optional paid options and open to users age 18 and up. To sign up, you download the app and connect with your Facebook account or sign-up without one. Upload a photo or add more and add to your 500 character bio and you’re off!
You can link Tinder to your Spotify account or Instagram, to give people a taste of your personality and real life. Each person who views you does so by seeing your photo, name, and age. They can tap on your profile to view more or swipe right for YES (as in, they want to match and get to know you better). Users who aren’t interested swipe left for “no” and will not see that profile again. You can also block or un-match users at any time.
Sex Offenders on Tinder
To trusting daters, it might seem as though dating apps look out for you. However, while you can block people on free sites, that option doesn’t protect you while on in-person dates. Match Group does screen for sex offenders on their paid sites (such as Match.com), but they do not check criminal or background history for its free sites like Plenty of Fish, OkCupid, Tinder, etc.
The risk this poses is hard to ignore, and daters should be concerned. A representative for Match Group reportedly told ProPublica:
There are registered sex offenders on our free products.
ProPublica and Columbia Journalism Investigations helped investigate the likelihood of Tinder having registered sex offenders on its apps.
How to Stay Safe on Tinder
Don’t share private information. Never give out your home address, full name, driver’s license number, place of work, or extremely personal information. A sex offender could use too many details to track down you, your kids, or your family.
Be Stalker-Proof! Keep your phone number private until you meet someone and trust them. Don’t like your Tinder account to any other accounts (Instagram, Facebook, Spotify) or, if you do, make those accounts “private”.
Search the profile pic, name, or details for anyone you plan on meeting. Social Catfish can help you screen your dates. Take a screenshot of the person you just met, are about to meet, or upload an image they have sent you. Search Social Catfish by name, username, phone number, image, or phone number.
Always and only meet in a public place and avoid being alone with a dater until you know them better. This is true for men as well as women. Men have also been catfishes and harmed by daters who weren’t who they claimed to be.
Sex offenders can often be serial offenders. You won’t stay safe from a potential sex offender unless you take time to perform a safety search. If public websites haven’t done the trick, make sure to try a Social Catfish search and include name, photograph (even a profile pic will do!), username, etc.