Following last year’s investment in nonprofit background checks Garbo, Match Group today introduces Garbo-supported background checks to its flagship dating app Tinder. The offering will be made available to Tinder users through the in-app safety center, which can be accessed from anywhere in the app via the blue shield icon.

The in-app experience directs users to the Garbo website where they can fill out basic information about their match. The company says users usually only need the Match’s first name and phone number to get started. However, if Garbo can’t find a unique match, it won’t return any results and will instead ask for more information, such as the age of the match.

When Garbo pops up the results, Tinder users can choose what to do next. If the person’s results show that he or she has a history of violence, the user is encouraged to report the match to Tinder. The company told TechCrunch it is removing all accounts reported for violent crimes from all brands of Match’s dating apps, according to its existing policy.

Image Credits: Tinder/Garbo

The Garbo site will also direct users to various mental health resources, including the ability to chat directly with The Hotline (the National Domestic Violence Hotline). This hotline provides a live chat experience and resource for survivors, and can direct people to more information, provide referrals, and assist with safety planning. (This can be helpful for online daters who aren’t doing a background check right away, but have already gotten involved in their Tinder match and now have even more problems and concerns.)

The idea of ​​offering background checks to online daters follows a 2019 investigative report from ProPublica and Columbia Journalism Investigations highlighting the issue of sexual predators on Match’s dating apps.

But the move also comes at a time when there is more focus on consumer protection in the tech industry. The US has been eyeing regulated tech companies that have benefited over the years by elevating engagement and growth metrics over user safety. There’s growing concern among lawmakers and the US government that technology can cause real-world harm — and that’s been proven in the case of an app that introduces unsupervised strangers to each other, like Tinder or any other online dating service.

Image Credits: Garbo

At launch, Tinder will offer two free background check searches to any user, up to 500,000 free searches in total. After that, searching on Garbo costs $2.50 plus a processing fee per transaction. Tinder notes that all proceeds go to Garbo to fund the costs of his operations.

In addition to being available on Tinder, Garbo will be launched today to the general US public through its website, app.garbo.io. The prices on the website are the same as what is offered to Tinder users.

Based in New York, Garbo was founded in 2018 by Kathryn Kosmides, a survivor of gender-based violence, who wanted to make it easier for anyone to look up critical information about a person’s background that could indicate a history of violence. Unlike traditional background search providers, Garbo focuses on what it calls “equitable background checks” — that is, checks that rule out non-violent charges of drug possession, loitering, vagrancy, and more minor traffic fines, in addition to DUIs and vehicular manslaughter.

Image Credits: Garbo

“We know that the biggest indicator of future abuse or violence is a history of this type of behavior. Whether it’s online dating or the dozens of other ways we meet strangers in today’s digital age, we need to know if we’re potentially compromising our security,” Kosmides said. “We want to protect those most vulnerable to experiencing harm, both online and offline, and this is just the first step in realizing our mission to proactively help prevent harm in the digital age.”

Garbo believes that the violations it excludes from the results are those that more disproportionately affect marginalized communities, which is why his background checks are considered “equitable.” It also won’t return personal information — like home addresses and phone numbers — in search results like rivals do.

Garbo says he is working with experts to help develop his strategy, including through his internal Advocacy Council. The council is made up of individuals from the National Center for Victims of Crime, the Center for Court Innovation, and ENDTAB.

The nonprofit received a seven-figure investment from Match Group last year ahead of its public launch.

“For far too long, women and traditionally marginalized groups have faced many resource and safety barriers,” said Tracey Breeden, Head of Safety and Social Advocacy at Match Group. “Garbo’s thoughtful and innovative consumer background checks will move the industry forward, while providing people with critical information to help make personal safety choices.”

Match Group says the feature is currently available to Tinder users in the US, but plans to roll out Garbo to other Match Group US brands in the coming months.

This post Tinder introduces in-app access to background checks powered by nonprofit Garbo – TechCrunch

was original published at “https://techcrunch.com/2022/03/09/tinder-rolls-out-in-app-access-to-background-checks-powered-by-nonprofit-garbo/”