If you’ve used dating apps, you may very well know the feeling — the butterflies that lurk in the pit of your stomach and the back of your mind that first time you meet a match in person or give out your phone number or address. Even after you’ve had a few digital exchanges with someone, trusting a total stranger can be a difficult decision. And that’s exactly why Tinder has rolled out a slew of emergency features — to hopefully put that unease to rest. Tinder’s panic button, photo verification, and other updates aren’t just for peace of mind, but help keep app users safe.
Tinder partnered with personal safety app Noonlight to develop these game-changing features, which means that you’ll have to download Noonlight and enable the app’s location tracking abilities to take advantage of these new Safety Center tools. From there, you can enter information about who your date is, and where and when you’re meeting up, into a Tinder Timeline. BTW, you can share that Timeline with friends, so your squad can keep tabs on you, too.
Taking your conversation offline can be exciting because it means testing your chemistry IRL, but it can also come with some risk. Fortunately, all of that info you entered about your date on the Tinder Timeline could come in handy when you do finally meet up, and you experience any discomfort. If you ever feel like you’re in danger, you can discreetly trigger an alert with one press of an on-screen button, which contacts Noonlight. Noonlight will send you a text first, and if that goes unanswered, they’ll attempt to call you. If you don’t pick up or otherwise indicate that you need help, Noonlight will dispatch emergency services, and since you gave them permission to track your whereabouts, they’ll know your exact real-time location.
It can also be downright disappointing when you show up to that first date to find your match isn't quite the way you expected them to be — perhaps because their pics were taken five years ago. While kittenfishing is a real thing, it’s another thing entirely if your date shows up, and it’s clear that their profile photos are of someone else. Tinder’s new Photo Verification feature will allow users to snap a real-time selfie, which can then compared to existing profile photos (using artificial intelligence technology) to verify their identity. A verified person will have a blue checkmark on their profile, so when you swipe right on (or match with) these users, you can rest assured that they are who they say they are. (Phew, right?) This feature is currently only being tested in select markets but will become available in more locations throughout 2020.
And while we’re on the subject of alarming dating app behavior, let’s discuss offensive messages. IMO, it’s high time to hold people accountable for their behavior on dating apps, whether they’re angry, ignorant, or just straight-up obnoxious. Thankfully, Tinder’s new “Does This Bother You?” feature, which is powered by machine learning, will flag potentially inappropriate communication, and allow you to indicate if that message has indeed rubbed you the wrong way. If you hit “yes,” you’ll have the option to report that user. Meanwhile, the upcoming Undo feature will ask Tinder members if they’d like to take back a message that contains potentially offensive language before it’s sent, thus hopefully discouraging those kinds of messages.
In the interest of making all of these new features easily accessible, they are all contained within Tinder’s new comprehensive Safety Center, a section of the app that will be continually evolving. And down the line, Tinder plans to personalize all of the information and tools within the Safety Center to provide “the most relevant experience for daters.”
It's important to remember that there are other measures you can take to stay safe. Julie Spira, an online dating expert and author of The Perils of Cyber-Dating, previously told Elite Daily that it’s crucial to be extra cautious about meeting up in person — for example, by Googling your date beforehand or using a background check site like BeenVerified. She also advises meeting in a public place, using your own transportation to and from the date, and giving a friend some info about your plan as well as your date’s phone number. The bottom line? You can never be too careful.
It’s totally normal to get a little nervous before a first date. But while a healthy dose of natural jitters is natural, you should never have to fear for your safety. Tinder’s new security tools aim to allow you to swipe right with a little more peace of mind. Because, fam, the only thing you should be worried about on that first date is whether or not you feel a spark.
Julie Spira, online dating expert