On Dec. 4, 2017, the dismembered remains of Sydney Loofe were discovered. Sydney was planning for an innocent night of fun with her Tinder date when she was violently murdered by fellow Tinder users Bailey Boswell and Aubrey Trail.
This is an extreme example of how using an online dating app can go horribly wrong, but it still serves a purpose. This is both a reason why users, especially women, should remain cautious when interacting with others on dating apps like Tinder and Bumble, and a motivator to take a deeper dive into the world of online dating, which is prevalent on Grand Valley State’s campus.
To give some perspective, this all started in my communications capstone class at the end of the 2019 winter semester. On a day I was absent from class, my final project group picked sexual violence on dating apps as the topic for our final project.
Coincidentally, they also decided to create our final project in the form of a newspaper article, so naturally I decided to continue the story once the semester ended.
Since then, I have reactivated my Tinder and Bumble profiles, created a list of nine qualitative questions to ask matches, set my age range to 18-25, and swiped right on every profile that came across my screen to maximize my respondent pool.
From Apr. 1, 2019 through Jan. 3, 2020, I asked 154 matches between Bumble and Tinder if they would like to answer my survey. Of those 154, 54 replied (24 on Tinder, 30 on bumble) while 100 did not (63 on Tinder, 37 on Bumble).
Here are some key takeaways from the survey.
Of the 54 respondents, 30 were current college students, six were recent college graduates, and 18 work full-time with no previous college experience.
One question asked if respondents had any ideas or recommendations for Tinder and/or Bumble to implement. Nine respondents said that it would be a good idea to improve the verification and reporting system to weed out catfishing and sexual predators. Eight respondents said they would like to see better personalized preferences or some type of system that sorts users based on what they are looking for, i.e. hookups, friendships, a relationship, or if they are unsure.
“I know that tinder is more for hookups,” said a respondent who wanted to remain anonymous. “But if you want to get along with someone on here, you know for more than just hookups, maybe they could have a series of simple questions and match up people with compatible answers.”
14 respondents said they had no recommendations to improve either app.
Eight respondents intentionally said that they thought guys were creepy and only wanted sex.
Alternatively, another eight respondents said that some, most, or a lot of guys were nice or enjoyable to talk to.
One question also asked for matches to supply screenshots of examples of poor behavior, which resulted in me receiving 64 pictures of messages from male matches which would classify as sexist, racist, and/or misogynistic content.
With so many respondents, there were also the occasional wild oddities in replies.
“I have had many negative ones,” said Shelby, a freshman at Kalamazoo Valley Community College in reference to her interactions on dating apps. “But one I remember most is a guy once asked me to have a threesome with him and his dad.”
“I’ve had two men threaten to kill me on tinder if that helps your research,” wrote another respondent who wanted to remain anonymous.
According to Tinder’s website, more than 20 billion matches have been made to date, millions of new matches are made daily, and the community is constantly growing. After conducting my research over Tinder and Bumble, one of the biggest issues for this community is the ease in which predators can set up a fake account with false information.
According to a Morning Consult survey conducted in 2019, 34% of dating app users surveyed have found out that someone lied to them about their identity or have been “catfished”.
Background checks and additional algorithmic software cost more money, so offering a new premium membership that includes background checks for premium members could help alleviate costs to do so. Low-cost background checks services, like Checkmate, are available and willing to work with large scale occupations.
Tinder also currently offers helpful tips and resources to protect yourself, but this does not fix the overarching issue.
In the end, these issues have still not been completely addressed. Best practice is to always be cautious of who you decide to meet up with because not everyone has good intentions. Always make sure to pay attention to suspicious behavior, and report it to dating sites like Tinder Bumble. For more helpful tips, please visit: https://www.gotinder.com/safety.