Tinder and Grindr are facing new scrutiny over their age verification practices after a report found several examples of children being abused after signing up for dating apps.
Yesterday, the United Kingdom’s Sunday Times reported that law enforcement officials in the UK have investigated more than 30 cases where children evaded age requirements on dating apps and were later raped, according to public records obtained by the outlet. The report also found another 60 cases involving sexual exploitation of children on dating services.
The United Kingdom Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright told the publication that his office was investigating. “I will be writing to these companies asking what measures they have in place to keep children safe from harm, including verifying their age,” he reportedly said. “If I’m not satisfied with their response, I reserve the right to take further action.”
The report raises questions about Tinder and Grindr’s screening practices. The two companies say they use both algorithmic and human screening tools to keep children from using their apps. In a statement sent to The Verge, a Grindr spokesperson said the company “is constantly working to improve” its tools. “We are saddened to learn of these reports,” the spokesperson said. “Grindr is committed to creating a safe and secure environment to help our community connect and thrive, and any account of sexual abuse or other illegal behavior is troubling to us as well as a clear violation of our terms of service.”
A spokesperson for Tinder said the company uses tools including “automatic scans of profiles for red-flag language and images, manual reviews of suspicious profiles, activity, and user generated reports, as well as blocking email addresses, phone numbers and other identifiers associated with underage users trying to circumvent these restrictions.”
“The bottom line is this: we are consistently evaluating and refining our processes to prevent underage access, and will always work with law enforcement, where possible, to protect our users as well,” the spokesperson said. “We don’t want minors on Tinder. Period.”
Update, 4:44PM ET: Includes additional comment from Tinder spokesperson.