- Tinder, OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, and other free dating apps owned by Match Group do not screen whether users are registered sex offenders.
- That lack of screening has allowed sex offenders to frequent the apps, according to a new investigation by ProPublica and Columbia Journalism Investigations.
- While Match Group screens sex offenders on its paid service, Match.com, it doesn’t take that step on its free apps.
- A Match Group representative told ProPublica “there are definitely registered sex offenders on our free products.”
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Highly popular free dating apps owned by Match Group – including Tinder, OkCupid, and Plenty of Fish – do not have clear policies or screening practices to prevent registered sex offenders from signing up.
As a result, people are matching with sex offenders on those apps and, in some cases, have faced attempted sexual assault, according to a new investigation by ProPublica and the Columbia Journalism Investigations.
For the investigation, ProPublica and CJI reporters analysed more than 150 instances of sexual assault involving dating apps and found that 10% stemmed from dates in which users were matched with people previously accused or convicted of sexual assault.
While Match Group carries out background checks for its paid services, like Match.com, it doesn’t do so for its free apps. A Match Group representative told ProPublica that “there are definitely registered sex offenders on our free products.”
In a separate statement to Business Insider Monday afternoon, a Match Group spokesperson called the ProPublica/CJI story “disingenuous” and “inaccurate.” The spokesperson did not contest any specific facts reported in the story, but stated that Match Group doesn’t collect enough information on users of free apps to conduct meaningful background checks.
“We do not tolerate sex offenders on our site and the implication that we know about such offenders on our site and don’t fight to keep them off is as outrageous as it is false,” the spokesperson said. “As technology evolves, we will continue to aggressively deploy new tools to eradicate bad actors, including users of our free products like Tinder, Plenty of Fish and OkCupid where we are not able to obtain sufficient and reliable information to make meaningful background checks possible.”
Based in Dallas, Match Group owns 45 online dating brands and reported $US1.7 billion in revenue in 2018. Tinder, its largest app, earlier this year became the top-grossing non-game app, according to TechCrunch.
The ProPublica/CJI report identified several registered sex offenders who were able to continue using Match Group dating apps after being convicted.
One Colorado man, Michael Miller, was convicted in 2015 of raping a woman he met through OkCupid. He later created a new OkCupid account and was allowed to keep using the platform for months, according to ProPublica and CJI’s investigation. A Pennsylvania man, Seth Mull, had a 17-year history of sex offences before he started using Plenty of Fish in 2017 – that year, the dating site matched him with a woman who later accused him of rape, according to the investigation.