If you’ve ever felt unsafe and in need of help while out on a date with someone you met on an app, you’re not alone.
Now, in a bid to address longstanding concerns over the safety of its users, Tinder will unveil new features that allow users to share details about upcoming dates and alert the authorities if they need help or are in danger.
Tinder’s parent company, Match Group, announced Thursday its partnership with Noonlight, a safety app that tracks people’s locations and sends that information to emergency services when an alarm on the app is triggered.
“You should run a dating business as if you are a mom,” Match Group chief executive Mandy Ginsberg told the Wall Street Journal. “I think a lot about safety, especially on our platforms, and what we can do to curtail bad behavior.”
According to a Tinder press release, beginning Jan. 28, users can input information about their dates in the Noonlight feature, including when and where they are going, and with whom; share location services so the app tracks them during a date; and hit a panic button if they need to alert emergency services.
Triggering the panic button will alert a certified dispatcher with Noonlight, who will then notify authorities like local police.
Once a Tinder user opts in to Noonlight, they have the option to add a badge to their profile.
Tinder CEO Elie Seidman told the Journal, “I liken this to the lawn sign from a security system.”
“It serves as a deterrent if people feel comfortable putting it on their profiles,” a Tinder spokesperson added to BuzzFeed News.
Though location sharing may be a privacy concern for users, the Tinder spokesperson said users will be sharing that data with Noonlight, not the dating app itself.
“Noonlight does not share or sell any data, and we only use data to get you help in the event of an emergency,” Addy Bhasin, a Noonlight spokesperson, told BuzzFeed News.
Bhasin said users have the option to turn location sharing on and off when they choose.
“So when you go on your date you can turn it on, and when your date ends you can turn it off,” she said.
Along with Noonlight, Tinder will roll out photo verification and a feature that detects inappropriate messages and allows users to report the sender. Match Group, which owns Tinder, Plenty of Fish, Match, OkCupid, and Hinge, will integrate Noonlight in its other dating apps later this year.
Dating apps have long faced criticism for failing to protect vulnerable users from harassment and abuse, both on their platforms and off.
In December, BuzzFeed News, Columbia Journalism Investigations, and ProPublica reported that Match Group had no policy in place to screen nonpaying members, and subsequently exposed users to registered sex offenders on most of its apps.
In most of the 157 incidents of sexual assault involving dating apps that the report found over the decade, the victims, who were mostly women, met their male attackers through dating apps owned by Match Group.
A company spokesperson said at the time that the 157 cases “need to be put in perspective with the tens of millions of people that have used our dating products.”