The dating app Tinder is currently working to enhance users’ safety, by providing features that give people certain options, such as check-ins, a panic button, and even alert emergency services about their location if a situation arises. Its parent company, Match, has taken the initiative to create a location tracking and personal safety feature called Noonlight. According to the Wall Street Journal, Match plans to test the features in the US near the end of January.
If a date takes a dark turn, users will be able to send out alarms through the Noonlight tool within the Tinder app. There will be steps as to how Noonlight will send help. First, like most apps, users will be asked to enter a code. If they don’t, they will get a message from one of the Noonlight dispatchers. Failing to respond back to the message will cause said dispatchers to call you. Whether there is an answer or not, Noonlight will get in touch with the authorities.
Send Them Your Location (For A Price)
To use the feature, users will have to share their location with the app. Match states that the information won’t be used neither for nefarious reasons—such as marketing—nor by them; it only goes through Noonlight.
Users who choose to use Noonlight will have an insignia in their dating profiles, hoping that will give aggressors second thoughts. The only issue with data safety is the fact that the company isn’t known to be that reliable.
This was best seen in 2018, when a major security breach granted account access with just one phone number. At the same time, users found out that their pictures were not encrypted. Finally, studies showed that Tinder is among dating apps that are likely to be careless with customer data.
Nonetheless, the company seems to want to get better at their practices. Match Group wholeheartedly believes that many people are comfortable with trading their location data for safety provided by Noonlight. Even if there’s the possibility of an alarm being triggered by accident during a good date, the company is totally okay with that risk. Match group chief executive, Mandy Ginsberg, said:
“The false positives, believe me, we took them into account. If someone doesn’t respond, worst case someone shows up and knocks on your door. It’s not the worst thing in the world.”
“You should run a dating business as if you were a mom. I think a lot about safety, especially on our platforms, and what we can do to curtail bad behavior. There are a lot of things we tell users to do. But if we can provide tools on top of that, we should do that as well.”
There is no talk as to what can happen if Noonlight is triggered out on purpose as opposed to being used in an actual emergency. However, one cannot ignore the fact that this new feature is part of a group of safety-centric tools on Tinder.
Just last year, it released a traveler alert system to help protect LGBTQ+ users located in countries known to discriminate. And in 2018, it launched a Bumble-like “women talk first” option, in which a feature would give women control over conversations. This me-too-adjacent movement is in part due to the criticism the company has endured because of its lack of action regarding sexual assault that happens because of connections made through the app. In the past, Tinder’s safety methods only consisted of monitoring conversations hoping to find traces of abusive language.
For the future, Tinder is planning a verification system that would require users to prove they actually look the way they do in the photos they submit. I will assume it is to avoid catfishing, because the tool asks users to take pictures doing certain poses to compare them to the rest of the images in their profiles. Those who pass the catfishing test get blue badges. Nevertheless, as of now, let’s focus on Noonlight, free for users in the US from the end of January.