Tinder rolls out built-in access to background checks, powered by nonprofit Garbo – TechCrunch

Following last year’s investment in the background check association, garbo, Match Group is rolling out Garbo-powered background checks to its flagship dating app Tinder today. The offer will be made available to Tinder users through the in-app Security Center, accessible anywhere in the app via the blue shield icon.

The in-app experience will direct users to the Garbo website where they can fill in basic information about their match. The company says users usually only need the Match’s first name and a phone number to get started. However, if Garbo cannot locate a unique match, it will return no results and instead ask for more information, such as the age of the match.

When Garbo posts its results, Tinder users can choose what they want to do next. If the person’s results indicate that they have a history of violence, for example, the user will be encouraged to report the match to Tinder. The company told TechCrunch that it is removing all accounts reported for violent crimes across all of Match’s dating app brands, per its existing policies.

The Garbo site will also direct users to various mental health resources, including the option of direct chat with The Hotline (the National Domestic Violence Helpline). This hotline offers a live chat experience and resources for survivors, and can direct people to more information, offer referrals, and help with safety planning. (This might be useful for online daters who don’t immediately do a background check, but have already become involved in their Tinder match and now have other issues and concerns.)

The idea of ​​offering a background check option for online daters follows a 2019 investigative report by ProPublica and Columbia Journalism Investigationswhich highlighted the problem of sexual predators on Match-owned dating apps.

But the move also comes at a time of increasing emphasis on consumer protection in the tech industry. The United States is considering regulating tech companies that have profited over the years by increasing engagement and growth measures over user safety. proven for to be true in the case of an application that presents unverified strangers, such as Tinder or any other online dating service.

Picture credits: garbo

At launch, Tinder will offer two free background check searches to each user, up to 500,000 free searches in total. Then, searches on Garbo cost $2.50 plus a processing fee per transaction. Tinder notes that all proceeds go to Garbo to fund the costs of its operations.

In addition to becoming available on Tinder, Garbo will launch today to the general US public via its website, app.garbo.io. The price on the website is the same as that offered to Tinder users.

New York-based Garbo was founded in 2018 by Kathryn Kosmides, a survivor of gender-based violence who wanted to make it easier for everyone to search for critical background information about someone that might indicate a history of violence. . Unlike traditional background search providers, Garbo focuses on what it calls “fair background” checks – meaning those who exclude charges of non-violent drug possession, loitering, vagrancy and other minor violations, in addition to drunk driving and manslaughter.

Picture credits: garbo

“We know that the biggest indicator of future abuse or violence is the history of these types of behaviors. Whether it’s online dating or the dozens of other ways we meet strangers in today’s digital age, we need to know if we’re potentially putting our safety at risk,” Kosmides said. “We want to protect those most vulnerable to harm both online and offline and this is just the first step in achieving our mission to help proactively prevent harm in the digital age. “

Garbo believes the offenses he excludes from the results are those that have a more disproportionate impact on marginalized communities, which is why his background checks are deemed “fair”. It also won’t return personal information — like home addresses and phone numbers — in its search results, like its competitors do.

Garbo says he is working with experts to help develop his strategy, including through his internal Advocacy Council. The council includes people from the National Center for Victims of Crime, the Center for Court Innovation and ENDTAB.

The non-profit organization received a seven-figure investment from Match Group last year ahead of its public launch.

“For too long, women and traditionally marginalized groups have faced many barriers to resources and security,” said Tracey Breeden, head of security and social advocacy at Match Group. “Garbo’s thoughtful and innovative consumer background checks will move the industry forward while empowering people with critical information to help them make informed personal safety choices.”

Match Group says the feature is currently available to Tinder users in the US, but aims to roll out Garbo to other US Match Group brands in the coming months.

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