Whenever I say I'm done with dating apps forever, one of them pulls me back in. In the past, I swipe through because I realize I can meet someone cool, or because I hear Pete Davidson is back on Raya. On July 24, though, an old favorite won my back my heart with the announcment of Tinder's Traveler Alert feature to help LGBTQ users stay safe in hostile countries. There are nearly 70 countries in the world with laws that discriminate against that LGBTQ community, and Tinder's "Traveler Alert" will warn them when they've entered one of these areas.
In a blog post, Tinder explained that when the app is opened in one of the countries with these laws, a notification will be sent to users who identify as LGBTQ. They'll have the option to keep using Tinder or to hide themselves on Tinder. Additionally, if a user does choose to stay on Tinder, their sexuality and gender identity will not be shown until they leave the area. For people using Tinder Passport, which allows someone to set their geographic location without being in that area, this tool will also activate if they change their region to one of these 70 countries. To determine which countries were considered hostile, Tinder partnered with the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA World). This alert will appear in Jamaica, Brunei, and nine other countries in which prosecutors can seek the death penalty for someone who engages in consensual same-sex intercourse. This update is available on iOS and Android, so as many users as possible will be protected.
It gets better — the update comes complete with a list of tips for dating safely. The tips Tinder shares — such as don't share financial information, keep communication on the platform rather than giving out contact information too quickly, meet in public, tell a friend before going on a date with someone you haven't met, report all suspicious behavior — are useful for all users. Practicing safety in online dating benefits everyone, much like creating policies to support LGBTQ users. Everyone deserves to use dating apps without fear, and I'm proud of Tinder for taking this step forward.
One thing I love about this feature is that it gives LGBTQ users the choice to keep using the app. Tinder is providing them with valuable information based on research and collaboration with IGLA World, but ultimately, the user gets to choose. Traveling should be a fun and exciting experience, and, when safety concerns are accounted for, someone should be able to make their own choices. There's no single right answer — while certain countries have discriminatory laws against LGBTQ users, a person still has agency over how they present themselves. Tinder is providing users with the information they need to keep themselves safe on Tinder, and I hope other dating apps soon follow suit.
Hopefully, one day everyone will live in a world where people are free to date and consensually sleep with whoever they like. There's no reason a member of the LGBTQ community (or anyone) should feel unsafe while traveling. Until that world exists, Tinder is doing its part to make sure the traveling and dating experience is as safe as possible for LGBTQ users, and I'm all here for it.