With 33.9 million people using dating apps in 2019, apps like Tinder, Hinge, and OKCupid have become staples in modern culture. As dating apps rise in recognition, users–both current and potential–are voicing concerns over the safety of these platforms. One of the main concerns stems from the lack of background checks required to use most dating apps. Users can often choose whether to put their full name into a profile. While some do not add a last name for safety, others refrain from adding a surname to avoid detection of a criminal record. A ProPublica report from December 2019 interviewed users who went on dates with registered sex offenders they met through dating apps, but had no idea due to the app’s lack of user authentification.
Many dating apps, including those owned by Match Group—the largest dating app conglomerate—often rely on Facebook to “verify” a user’s profile. However, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many apps have been allowing new users to create profiles independently from the social network. A Gartner report found that as government regulations become stricter, companies will have to rethink approaches to data collection in order to retain user trust. Some dating apps have secured trust, including The League, which requires users to be fully verified on Facebook and Linkedin in addition to paying to use its services.
Furthermore, many in public health fields have raised concerns over the rise of sexually transmitted diseases across the United States, in part due to unregulated app usage. A handful of dating apps have encouraged users to disclose their HIV status, while also encouraging users to get tested and treated. However, many dating apps have been hesitant to promote disease control, believing that doing so could tarnish their image, according to UCLA health researcher Jeffrey Klausner.
The number of dating app consumers may continue to climb in the coming years. Some companies are preparing by building up safety measures on their respective apps. Other dating apps looking to secure user trust may want to emulate such protective steps in the name of user safety and ultimately, brand loyalty.