According to an official blog post, Tinder is planning to make their users feel safer on dates by adding security features to the app. To that end, Tinder’s parent company, the Match Group, has made an investment of undisclosed magnitude in a company called Noonlight, which will be providing these services. They plan on linking Noonlight with all their dating apps, but it is to be debuted on Tinder in the US.
Update: Additional Sefety Featurs such as Picture Verification have been announced. (See below).
- 1 The Security Features to be Added to Tinder through Noonlight
- 2 Potential Concerns
- 3 Additional Security Features
- 4 Price and Release Date
- 5 Conclusion
The Security Features to be Added to Tinder through Noonlight
Notifying Tinder of upcoming dates
If you sign up for these Noonlight features (see below for price information) you should be able to tell Tinder/Noonlight about any upcoming dates and provide as much personal information about the person you are meeting, as well as about the location and other details of the date as you wish. Then, if something were to go wrong, the authorities would know where to start.
“I am protected” Badges
Of course it would be preferable if it didn’t come to that, so you will be able to add a Noonlight badge to your profile that is to act as a deterrent by telling everyone you are protected by Noonlight.
Once on that date, and should anything happen to make you feel unsafe, you can press a panic button within the app. After some escalation steps, the authorities will be alerted and dispatched to your location.
First, they ask you to enter a code in the app. If that doesn’t happen, they text you. If there’s no reply to the text, they call you. And finally, if there’s no reply to the call, or if you confirm you need help on the call, they summon the police.
That all sounds well and good and it’s surely better than nothing, but the system is far from perfect from where I’m standing. Concerns include:
The escalation steps all seem to require you to not respond in order to get the police to show up. That seems like a lot of wasted time in a situation where every minute might count.
A confirmation option on each of the steps before the phone call would be helpful.
By the time you realize a date is going down a dark path, you may already be unable to activate that panic button. Be it roofies kicking in, the phone being in another room behind locked doors, you being physically restrained, or, or, or…
A dead man switch would make more sense if safety comes before convenience.
This concern was raised by the Wall Street Journal, but I don’t share it. Yes, you may accidentally press the panic button, but you would then also need to accidentally ignore all the escalation steps including the phone call, or accidentally confirm you need help. Worst case, the police show up on your door step during hankey pankie, making it one of your more memorable dates (presumably) and a great story. That is, as long as your date hasn’t made the strategic mistake of being a minority.
False False Alarms
It’s not quite clear from the description what kind of code you are supposed to enter in the app. Maybe it’s a PIN you should enter to deactivate the alarm.
In the later steps however, it seems entirely plausible for your date/captor to act in your place and play the situation off as a false alarm. “Oh the code? I’m sorry I forgot..” It will all depend on how diligent Noonlight employees are, and how safe that mentioned code is.
Knowing people, it’s entirely plausible some jokesters will abuse the system by telling the app they’re going on a date with someone, only to activate the panic button while parked outside their apartment. See: Swatting.
An easy solution would be requiring the other party to confirm the date beforehand (while notifying you of whether or not they confirmed).
Without an obvious solution would be the situation in which someone, for whatever reason, decides to call the cops on you during the date, falsely accusing you of all manner of ill deeds. Of course, such a thing is already possible, but pressing a button in the app is less conspicuous than openly calling the police on you during the date.
Admittedly, these are unlikely scenarios that will not happen often, and they are outweighed by far by people in emergencies being saved.
You may not want yet another app or service knowing your location, and you may be worried about them sharing it with further parties, but to be fair, you already had to let Tinder know your location for the app to work at this point, and they’re pretty liberal with how they treat your sensitive data. The difference would be that you agree for Noonlight to receive location updates at all times, as opposed to only when you open the app.
Additional Security Features
Apart from the Noonlight partnership, Tinder is also poised to launch three additional security features:
By supplying Tinder with a series of selfies, you will have the option of earning a blue “verified” badge for your profile, thus letting everyone know you’re neither catfish nor bot.
For the time being, these selfies will be verified by humans, in what Tinder likes to call “human-assisted AI technology”. In other words, they are hoping to train an AI to take over the whole process in the future but the technology just isn’t there yet.
This should certainly help curb scams running on their platform. We’ll see how well it’s integrated and whether or not it will be free.
Offensive Message Detection
A new system is supposed to automatically detect offensive messages, only to then ask the recipient whether or not they found this message offensive, offering them the option to report it.
This seems more than a bit redundant as users always had the option of reporting offensive messages if they feel harassed.
I foresee this system to be little more than an annoyance, but suspect it is being used to train an AI for yet undisclosed purposes.
The new “Safety Center” appears to be mostly a knowledge base to inform users of risks and their options.
Price and Release Date
Though nothing to that end has been clearly stated, we can assume these features will not be free. Whether they will be part of one of the membership tiers Plus or Gold, or a separate purchase or subscription is yet to be seen.
Maybe the Match Group will surprise us and help all of their users feel safer on dates, free of charge. I wouldn’t bet on it though.
- The Noonlight feature is set to debut on Tinder at the end of January 2020, at least in the US. It is unclear if the service will expand to other countries in the future, seeing as Noonlight themselves only operate in the US.
- Picture Verification has already been launched in “select markets” for testing purposes. If you see the feature pop up on your phone, let us know.
- Safety Center is launching in the US, UK, France and Germany “soon”, to be expanded to additional markets throughout 2020.
- Offensive Message Detection will be launching “soon” in “select markets” for testing purposes. If you see the feature pop up on your phone, let us know.
All in all, I applaud any steps a dating service takes to ensure the safety of its users. These may be somewhat flawed, but they lead in the right direction.
What do you think? Have you already been able to test the new feature? Do you have new information, or would like to suggest a correction? Let us know in the comments, or visit the SwipeHelper Subreddit. See you there ?