Popular dating apps like Tinder, OkCupid and PlentyofFish which are owned by Match Group have one major problem. These dating apps have registered sex offenders crawling with no policy or screening for such users. Match Group has also acknowledged that there are registered sex offenders on its dating apps.
A 16-month investigation carried out by ProPublica and Columbia Journalism Investigations discovered that these dating apps leave users at risk of getting involved with convicted and accused sex offenders. Match Group has a total of 45 dating platforms under its wing with Tinder being the most popular one.
The investigation saw over 150 incidents during the last five years on these dating apps. The results showed most victims were women who met with male sex offenders primarily on Tinder, OkCupid, PlentyofFish and Match. The investigation results also showed that in 10% of the incidents, users matched with people who had a record of at least one sexual assault case.
In an emailed statement to Hindustan Times, Match Group said, ““This article is inaccurate, disingenuous and mischaracterizes Match Group safety policies as well as our conversations with ProPublica. We do not tolerate sex offenders on our site and the implication that we know about such offenders on our site and don’t fight to keep them off is as outrageous as it is false. We use a network of industry-leading tools, systems and processes and spend millions of dollars annually to prevent, monitor and remove bad actors – including registered sex offenders – from our apps. As technology evolves, we will continue to aggressively deploy new tools to eradicate bad actors, including users of our free products like Tinder, Plenty of Fish and OkCupid where we are not able to obtain sufficient and reliable information to make meaningful background checks possible. A positive and safe user experience is our top priority, and we are committed to realizing that goal every day.”
Match Group does have a screening policy for registered sex offenders but this is limited to its paid subscribers on the dating platform, Match. Other free apps like Tinder, OkCupid and PlentyofFish are devoid of such screenings. But even on Match the company doesn’t screen all paid users. The company also doesn’t have any legal obligation to conduct such background checks which it fought for in court for years.
In response to this a Match Group spokesperson told CJI that the company cannot hold such screenings since there isn’t much information gathered from its free users. The spokesperson was also quoted by CJI as saying, “There are definitely registered sex offenders on our free products.”
Commenting on the number of incidents that have occurred on its dating apps, Match Group told CJI, “A relatively small amount of the tens of millions of people using one of our dating services have fallen victim to criminal activity by predators. We believe any incident of misconduct or criminal behavior is one too many.”
Some of the incidents detailed in the investigation had girls match with three-time convicted rapist, six-time convicted rapist and even a sex offender with a 17-year history of sex crimes.
Update: This story has been updated with Match Group’s statement.