If you've ever received a dating app message that's left you feeling more 🤢 than 😍, you're definitely not alone. What one person sees as flirtation could be perceived by another as harassment, and for some people, the threat of receiving inappropriate or sexually explicit messages discourages them from dating apps entirely. Being creepy on dating apps was far too easy for far too long, and luckily, Tinder is doing something about it. Tinder's anti-harassment AI feature, which launched on Jan. 23, asks users "Does this bother you?" when offensive language is detected, making it easier than ever for users to report harassment.
And it gets even cooler: Tinder's safety-focused updates also include a feature called "Undo," which asks users if they'd like to take back a message containing potentially offensive language before it's delivered. While you can always block or report a match if you feel unsafe, these new updates work to increase user accountability and deter gross messages. As Tinder's head of trust and safety products, Rory Kozoll, explained to Wired, "If 'Does This Bother You?' is about making sure you're OK, 'Undo' is about asking, 'Are you sure?'" But does it make a difference? I spoke to current and former Tinder users to get their thoughts on the update.
While some people like the idea of the update, they aren't entirely convinced that it will make a difference in user experience. Some pointed out that Tinder might mistakenly flag inoffensive messages, believing them to be offensive, and a few suggested that the issue of inappropriate behavior on dating apps can't be solved so simply.
"How does it know the difference between mutual flirting and one person being a creep?" former Tinder user Claire, 25, points out. "At some point, it's more the environment of the app that promotes harassment than anything else."
"It does make my experience better but, well... creeps are creeps, and they sure find a way to get back," says current user Akanksha, 20.
Former user Aftyn, 23, has seen this feature in action, and thinks it needs a little fine-tuning. "I think it's a great feature to deal with those initial offensive messages," she says, "[but] it can be off-base sometimes, so it still has a few kinks to work out, IMO."
Former user Tess, 24 (who met her current boyfriend on Tinder), says, "I think it's a good step in the right direction. Most young women I know have horror stories about aggressive or weird Tinder messages, and I'm hoping this feature helps the senders of those messages realize their approach to online dating needs to be much more respectful. The core issue, in my opinion, is one of consent: being on Tinder does not automatically translate to automatic consent to receiving sexual messages, which some users really, really don't get. I don't think Tinder's algorithm can fix that, but I am happy to see that the app is making changes in an effort to make users feel safer and perhaps more in control."
Not everyone is pleased with the update. Some users find the new security feature unnecessary and even invasive, saying that they can determine what they find offensive without Tinder's input.
Current Tinder user Katie, 23, says, "I don't love the idea that this means Tinder is always just idly perusing your conversations on the app from a privacy standpoint, even if it's intended to root out harassment (though I'm sure they could do that before). Honestly, I haven't had any especially awful harassment experiences on Tinder, so I don't think that this feature, for me, adds much to the user experience."
Katie believes that her own judgment is more powerful than any algorithm. "I have used the block button before when people have made comments that made me uncomfortable," she adds, "but I don't find any harassment I've experienced online as jarring as being catcalled in real life. I don't need Tinder to act as a virtual bystander. I have enough agency to read the intent behind someone's message, decide if it makes me uncomfortable, and report if it I want without needing Tinder to ask me about it first."
As a former Tinder user myself (who found her now-husband on Tinder), I especially like the idea of having the app compel creeps to rethink a potentially weird message before sending it. It's one thing to continually block those who make dating apps an uncomfortable experience for some, but it's another thing to make them question their behavior.
You know what they say: Block a creep, and you'll deter them for a day. Question a creep, and you might just deter them for a lifetime. (Or something like that.)
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