Starting this week, Tinder users will see a background check tool built into the popular dating app’s Security Center. The new option is part of a partnership between Tinder’s parent company, Match Group, and Garbo, a nonprofit background check provider focused on awareness and prevention of gender-based violence.
The update, announced on Wednesday, comes a year after Match Group shared the news of an investment in Garbo, which is putting seven-figure sums into the organization to grow the service and make it accessible to its users. In addition to launching Tinder, Garbo is also removing its waitlist and will allow anyone — Tinder users or not — to conduct searches on its site for a small fee.
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Garbo, which bills itself as a new breed of background check for the digital age, was founded by Kathryn Kosmides, who is a survivor of gender-based violence. Garbo is currently searching public records of arrests, convictions and sex offender registries in all counties of the United States where accessible. Match Group is Garbo’s first consumer partner.
To conduct a search, Garbo asks for information one could easily have about a possible online dating connection when approaching an IRL date such as: B. a first and last name and a telephone number. Additional information such as age, date of birth, zodiac sign (which users can optionally share on Tinder, which would narrow down the month of birth), and zip code will help provide more accurate results.
The goal is to arm online daters with information that can help them feel confident in their dating decisions, but the service could also raise new concerns about how people will use it and what they can take away from it.
Kosmides said people looking for Garbo will likely come from one of two buckets: “You’re either a cautious person and you’re looking for everyone, or you have a gut feeling about someone,” she said, adding she hopes they will Platform to eventually become more robust over time to integrate other relevant types of records.
Some security experts see Tinder’s integration of the Garbo tool as an example of paying lip service to the issue while shifting the burden onto the most vulnerable users.
“We know that sexual violence is so rarely reported, and we know that convictions, even when they are reported, are so incredibly rare,” said Nicole Bedera, a sociologist who has researched sexual violence and previously worked as a victim advocate. “You’re going to miss a lot of really dangerous people if you use criminal records and background checks as security proxies. It can create that false sense of security when it’s not supposed to be there.”
Bedera said that instead of focusing on technical features and products, Tinder and Match Group could, for example, channel lobbying funds into offline efforts to educate and prevent sexual violence: “I don’t think technology is a one-size-fits-all solution sexual violence is.” (Last fall, the CEO of Match Group supported the Violence Against Women Act, including a $500,000 corporate donation to the nonprofit National Network to End Domestic Violence.)
Kosmides concedes that Garbo is far from being a silver bullet. The database currently contains more than a billion records of violent and harmful behavior, the nonprofit said. But there is also an important caveat that Kosmides and Garbo make clear. “Most violent individuals never interact with the criminal justice system,” says Garbo’s website.
Kosmides said she didn’t want to convey false security. She said the intent is not for people to “overindex” whether a search will turn up a criminal record for someone. Rather, she said it is part of Garbo’s overall mission to educate and support people about gender-based violence. (Garbo’s website has articles and a podcast designed for people to use to navigate relationships with support. She’s also partnered with the National Domestic Violence Hotline so people can access a 24/7 chat about Garbo. )
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Tracey Breeden, head of safety and social advocacy at Match Group, reiterated that point. Breeden said a product like Garbo can provide security for people, but “we just have to make sure that we prioritize education and make sure that security doesn’t start and end with a background check.”
Breeden, a former law enforcement officer, joined Match Group in late 2020 after working at Uber as head of global programs for women’s safety and gender-based violence. Speaking to CNN Business last year, ahead of the Garbo investment, Breeden said that when she entered the dating industry, she “saw a need for people to have access to information.”
Tinder, like Uber, has drawn significant attention to the platform’s security issues. Months before Breeden joined, ProPublica and Columbia Journalism Investigations uncovered flaws in Tinder and other dating services, including their failure to crack down on sex offenders. (In response to that article, a spokesman for Match Group said the company doesn’t collect enough information about users to conduct screenings.)
When asked by CNN Business why Tinder isn’t directly using Garbo’s information to clean up its platform first, rather than putting the blame on individuals, Breeden said the company may not have the relevant information about users to do the to conduct a search. Breeden also said users could choose to report someone based on a Garbo search and Match Group would then take action.
Garbo said a search typically takes up to three minutes to get results. In order to access the results, users must acknowledge that Garbo should not be used for other purposes such as employment or tenant verification, credit or insurance, or hiring domestic help. Garbo also notes the level of accuracy of the information it creates, then assesses how closely the results match the personal information provided.
Tinder said it will give users two free background checks on Garbo to get started. For non-Tinder users or for future searches, people can purchase one, three, or five credits from Garbo for $2.50 each plus a processing fee. The site also offers the option to pay more to donate free searches to those in need.
Unlike other background check providers, Garbo does not provide identifying information such as a person’s address history in search results.
Bedera noted that given their limitations, criminal background checks “have limited effectiveness at best and could reproduce inequalities at worst,” citing the systemic biases in the criminal justice system.
Garbo says it removes certain nonviolent crimes and retrieves records going back up to 14 years for crimes with victims and up to seven years for financial crimes. There are no review deadlines for domestic or sexual assault. When results are shown, Garbo also provides the relevant penal code for users to learn more.
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https://abc13.com/tinder-background-checks-garbo-check-match-group-fast-people-search/11636936/ Tinder dating app that exposes criminal background checks on your dates