Match Group, the parent company of social dating app Tinder, has said it treats cases of sexual assault on the platform “with the utmost urgency and seriousness”, following reports it has failed to support victims.
“We want to be very clear: when anyone is reported to our apps for violent behavior, we aggressively remove and block the perpetrator’s account from all of our platforms,” Match Group said in a blog post.
“We take incidents of sexual assault with the utmost urgency and seriousness and will always – always – work with law enforcement to help ensure that justice is served.”
A joint ABC Four Corners and Hack investigation last week found the app provided inadequate support for women who had been assaulted or raped by Tinder matches.
That report revealed Tinder merely replied with automated responses to victims who reported sexual assault occurring from use of the platform.
Women who answered Triple J Hack’s public callout for Tinder users said their reports were met with generic responses and no follow-up.
“I contacted Tinder after blocking this guy and received a generic stock standard, bullshit response,” one person said.
“I contacted them again, wanting to know what the follow up was or would be, and received no response.”
Concerns were also flagged in the report about perpetrators removing evidence by ‘unmatching’ with their victims – a process that deletes messages between Tinder users.
“When a user reports an assault to one of our brands, we act on that report immediately,” Match Group said its post.
“We aim to identify the alleged perpetrator and block the associated account.
“If you are sexually assaulted by anyone you’ve met on our platforms, and the assailant unmatches you, we are still able to access those messages and work with law enforcement if reported to us.”
In May last year, a Melbourne court sentenced a man who raped and assaulted women he met on Tinder to 14 years and nine months in prison.
Assistant commissioner of the NSW Police, Stuart Smith, told the ABC the current system was inadequate.
“There’s a contact email and they’re supposed to get back to us,” he said.
“There’s always difficulties with that process.
“We expect over time that there will be more cooperation with the dating app companies, and certainly the fallback is, if we can’t cooperate then we’ll find a legislative [way].”
In its post, Match Group said it wanted to “hear directly” from Australian police about how to better cooperate in the future.
“Over the next coming weeks we will be reaching out to federal and state law enforcement and safety officials across Australia to set up meetings with our Safety and Legal teams so we can better explain the tools and resources we have dedicated to helping their efforts,” it said.
A problem of scale
The Match Group blog post was published on the day of, and responds directly to, the report from the public broadcaster.
It is an important piece of public relations for Match Group which owns 10 dating platforms – including OkCupid, Hinge, and the eponymous Match.com – all of which cater to different age groups, user experiences, and demographics.
Match Group earned more than half of its $US2 billion revenue through Tinder last year, most of which comes from in-app purchases despite Tinder being named among a list of dating apps that were illegally handing sensitive personal information to tech giants for advertising.
The ABC investigation reveals the difficulty of scaling its duty of care alongside a rapidly growing global userbase.
Former Match Group staff who spoke with ABC reporters expressed their concern with existing processes within the social dating corporation.
“I don’t think anyone outside the moderation and customer support teams gave a shit about user safety,” said one former staffer.
Another said the team “struggled to keep up with the volume of complaints”.
“It made me really uncomfortable that we were struggling with backlogs where an urgent complaint might have been buried,” they said.
One of the women, Emily, who spoke to the ABC report about her experience was frustrated with how Tinder dealt with dangerous and traumatising experiences provoked by its algorithm.
“It makes me mad that this platform is making money off the people who are being hurt, and then they can’t even respond properly when people are hurt,” she said.
“What are you doing with your money?”