While dating apps can be fun and make for an efficient pursuit of love, “stranger danger” and red flags are just as real in the online world. Now, popular hookup app Tinder is working with the New York-based startup Garbo to help users find out if they might be swiping right on someone with an appetite for gender-based violence and criminal activity. Garbo was founded by Kathryn Kosmides, who herself was a victim of dating violence from someone she met online.
“Before Garbo, abusers were able to hide behind expensive, hard-to-find public records and reports of their violence; now that’s much harder,” she said. “Being able to reach historically underserved populations is fundamental to Garbo’s mission, and the partnership with Match (the Dallas, TX-based company which owns Tinder) will help us connect with these communities.”
With only a first name and a phone number (or license plate), you will soon be able to access any open data about your new date and arrive at a smarter choice about whether you should move forward. “Gender-based violence is a human-to-human crime,” Kosmides explained in a separate interview.
However, Garbo says it works with “racial equity and gender justice groups” to ensure that communities and populations that have been historically targeted to an unjust degree are not similarly penalized by their technology. Therefore, Garbo allegedly does not include arrests for traffic violations or drug possession. “[K]nowing if someone has a history of gender-based violence? Not creepy to me,” Kosmides said. “Those other systems rely heavily on human-to-society and human-to-property based crimes like drug crimes. We provide access to information that allows people to make more informed decisions about their safety. We believe in finding the balance between privacy and public access to information.”
The present understanding is that Tinder will not actively provide its user records to Garbo. Instead, users of the site will be able to pay to use Garbo’s technology and find out more about their next paramour. Right now, Tinder is testing out implementation and pricing models before announcing an official rollout date. And if things look successful, Garbo will likely become a part of the platforms in the Match Group family (which includes OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, and Hinge).
Natalie Ludaway, a Member of the Match Group Advisory Council, believes this move will empower their app’s users in protecting themselves and possibly save their lives. “Match Group’s partnership with Garbo is a real, meaningful step towards giving people access to information that can help make a real difference in their safety decisions.”