Swinburne University of Technology Professor of Media and Communication Kath Albury says problems with dating apps are reflective of issues with online forums as a whole. She says abusive conduct is to some extent down to the “online disinhibition effect” – the psychological theory suggesting there’s a lack of restraint because people are not communicating face-to-face and missing the empathy trigger that might happen with in-person interactions.
She says Are You Sure? could help influence a relatively empathic person to reconsider a thoughtless response or quick emotional reaction. “But what they don’t help is if someone is genuinely intending to hurt or frighten or abuse,” she says. “If someone is, for example, genuinely misogynistic or racist on a dating app, a pop-up is not going to stop them because they intend to hurt. So [the prompt] saying ‘that might be hurtful’, [the user] is like, ‘yeah, I know’.”
Are You Sure? has been rolled out in Australia, US, Canada, New Zealand, UK, Ireland and Japan, and will be available in additional markets in the coming months.
“Safe conversations have been a cornerstone of the Tinder experience since the beginning,” a Tinder spokesperson said. “We believe we have a responsibility to educate our members – many of whom are entering the dating pool for the first time – about what kind of behaviour is and is not appropriate when building new relationships. With the additional context Does This Bother You? and Are You Sure? provide, Tinder is able to take better action against bad actors and provide more support for victims through this technology.”
Mary says she’s undecided about the impact of Are You Sure?
“It might have an initial impact and scare some people off. But the ones who want to, will find ways around it. They’ll move off the app quicker and show their true colours once they get your number. So in some ways it could get worse.”
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