Imagine that someone on Facebook is able to send you a friend request and see your activity or background without you even responding. This is the answer Match Group has for safety issues on Tinder and other dating apps in their portfolio. How do you feel about someone doing a background check on you before going out on a date? How accurate do you think a background check will be, if you only have a phone number and a first name for reference? Is that the security you want to have?
We all want to be safe and the above are serious questions — questions that we should all be asking if we are going to trust our safety on a dating site. So let’s examine the obvious problems that the current online dating apps have.
When starting a relationship, honesty is the best policy. You want to be able to trust your partner, and having a background check done can be a part of that. But many online dating apps, including Tinder, do not currently obtain consent from their users for their background checks. The problem here is that such dating apps are using publicly available information that may, or may not have been verified. The quick solution to this problem is to ask a potential match for their information. This way, the information that will be used for background checks will be accurate and users will be able to control their data and protect their privacy. Maintaining transparency in the background check process is important — the same as other important questions in a relationship, like asking about STDs or if they live with their parents.
There’s also an accuracy problem. The background check industry, with their billions of dollars in revenue, have real problems matching job applicants’ names and social security numbers to the records they pay for, let alone publicly available records. Publicly available records are often misleading and or out of date, and even an exact match can’t fix that accuracy issue. This is because public records are typically updated “as needed,” and not in the moment the information is most useful.
The data Tinder wants to use won’t keep you safe. The Match Group release mentions that they only require a first or last name and a phone number, which doesn’t pass the smell test to be reliable anchors in a search. Let us start by dismissing the first name as an anchor for data. Lots of people don’t even go by their first name and use middle or nicknames on their dating profiles. Using a phone number is also a problem, you can get a new phone number any day of the week and many young people regularly change their number. The average person can also spoof a phone number from several services offered on the internet.
While I was getting my MBA at Michigan, a classmate experienced this problem in the worst of ways. “Jane” met a guy on Tinder. Before agreeing to meet she did a search on Google and found no matching results. But the guy she matched with seemed nice and she met him at a well known bar for drinks. She was enjoying the night, but when he went to the restroom she grabbed another drink from the bar and put it on his tab. This is when Jane found out his real name from the bartender. She went home and did a quick Google search to find out he was a registered sex offender.
Is this a good first step? Yes. But is this solving the problem of user safety, or the reputation problem for Tinder? What people need is a solution that gets to the heart of identity verification, and the current background check process by Tinder will not solve the problem. What are your thoughts?
YourCheck is taking a different approach. We believe that you should be able to trust people you meet on the internet. We believe that only accurate information should be used to verify your background and that you should consent to release the information.
Please visit www.yourcheck.co to see what we’re building.
Adam Smiddy is the Co-founder of YourCheck Inc. and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org