Tinder Launches New Criminal Background Check Feature For Dates

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Tinder announced Wednesday (March 9) that users will now be able to check the criminal backgrounds of people they plan to meet up with in real life.

The new feature will be found in the app’s Safety Center and is the result of a partnership between Tinder’s parent company, Match Co and Garbo, a nonprofit background check provider that focuses on gender-based violence awareness and prevention. According to CNN Business, Garbo is also removing its waitlist, meaning that anyone –– regardless of whether they swipe on Tinder or not –– can conduct searches on its website for a small fee.

Garbo currently searches public arrest records, convictions, and sex offender registries across counties in the US where the info is accessible.

Here’s how the new Tinder feature will work: Garbo will ask for information a person who has set up an in-person date might already have including first and last name, and a phone number. Additional information like birthday, age, zip code and even zodiac sign –– all of which can be shared to a person’s Tinder profile voluntarily –– will help narrow results for accuracy.

The goal, the popular dating app company says, is to provide its users with more information to make them feel safer about in-person meet-ups. But, some are concerned about what other ways the information will be used or even what users might take away from it.

Garbo’s founder, Kathryn Kosmides, said the people using the feature are one of two types. “They’re either a cautious person and searching everyone, or they have a gut feeling about someone.” Kosmides, is who is a survivor of gender-based violence, said she hopes to continue to build out the platform and incorporate other types of records.

What Experts Say Is Missing

Some experts say that the feature is putting the burden of safety on Tinder users and that with such low conviction rates for sexual violence, the tool might not be as helpful.

“We know that sexual violence is so rarely reported and we know that convictions are so incredibly rare even when it is reported,” sociologist Nicole Bedera told the outlet. “You’re going to be missing a lot of really dangerous people through using criminal records and background checks as proxy for safety. It can create this false sense of safety when it shouldn’t be there.”

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