Tinder is carrying out his particular de-escalation. After the covid-19 pandemic and confinements in many countries, the dating application has launched a new function so that users can make video calls before meeting in person or not to miss appointments due to possible confinement in the coming months. Although the specific date is not known, the app will have this optimization in Spain this summer. Half of Tinder users in the US have already had at least one appointment per video call during the month of June.
The dating app has limited ways to connect to a video call. It can only be used when the two users have given the go-ahead. The button to start the video conversation is available to both, but it is only activated when the two participants have pressed it. In addition, none of them knows if their interlocutor has previously pressed it or not. Video chat can also be disabled at any time, and if users decide to use it, they must accept a series of special permissions. At the end, you can give an assessment or continue chatting in writing.
Crowds of netizens have found fake or stolen photos while hanging around Tinder and have not realized it until they have met in person with their date. To avoid this type of deception, Tinder has implemented photo verification through an Artificial Intelligence algorithm for video calls. If the user clicks on ‘Verify your profile’, the application asks them to imitate a pose. In this way, they try to ensure that you do not impersonate another person. “Verified users will have a blue indicator on their profile to make them easily distinguishable,” Tinder said in a statement.
However, through so-called deep fakes, the identity of consumers could be supplanted. “It is a freely available tool that gets the face of anyone. Usually it is done with a politician or famous person but can be used with anyone. You can wink and grimace in real time. For example, in April a Zoom video call went viral in which one of the participants posed as Elon Musk ”, explains Eusebio Nieva, technical director of Check Point for Spain and Portugal.
Tinder was originally designed to meet people located near the user, although now you can change the settings and interact with people from other parts of the world no matter how far they are. What is commonly known as making a match happens when two people like each other after reading a short description and seeing a few photos of each user. If this happens, they can start a written conversation or, from now on, by video.
Extortion and identity theft
A priori, video chatting with strangers doesn’t seem too safe. Despite the fact that Tinder has implemented a multitude of measures, cybersecurity experts warn about the risks of this practice. “This function has the same problems as any app that allows access to a device with a webcam, with the connotation that the app is not for teaching or chatting with friends, but the interaction is with strangers “Explains José Luis Vázquez Poletti, professor in the Department of Computer Architecture and Automation at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM).
Other dating apps have already incorporated this advance. Bumble launched a voice and video chat feature in June 2019, and Hinge rolled out video calls globally last month. “These types of apps can be directly attacked, such as collecting videos to extort users with their images or hacking the application to get user data, as happened with the Ashley Madison dating app,” says Vázquez Poletti . And also indirect attacks. “It is what is known as eWhoring. Many hours of sexual content are collected from people and sold as packages on the deep web to hook the unsuspecting to other types of social networks asking for money or simply impersonating the identity of another person, “adds Vázquez Poletti.
Every application is hackable. “Although Tinder assures that the video cannot be saved, nobody can assure it 100%. It is what Instagram promised with stories or Snapchat, but now there are many tools to record the screen or get certain content. In addition there is an extra problem, minors can enter the application only confirming that they are over 18, even if they are not, ”says Vázquez Poletti. The potential vulnerabilities specific to this feature remain to be seen. “Since the app has not yet launched this optimization, it is not clear if the encryption is end-to-end or if someone could get in the middle of the conversation, distort it or extract information,” adds Nieva.