Tinder and other Match Group-owned apps are going to let their users run background checks on possible dates. The company announced an investment in Garbo, a nonprofit that looks to allow people to run background checks with only their first name and phone number or full name. The investment, of which Match didn’t disclose the amount, will help make the group’s tech available to Match’s users, starting with the company’s most popular app: Tinder.
This means Tinder users will be able to vet their dates with details like their arrest record or history of violence. That could dramatically affect who finds success on the app and who doesn’t. Garbo says it collects “public records and reports of violence or abuse, including arrests, convictions, restraining orders, harassment, and other violent crimes,” and its website says it accepts manually submitted “police report(s), order(s) of protection / restraining orders, and other legal documents that report abuse, harassment, or other crimes.” (That manual function isn’t currently live, however.)
Notably, in a blog post published last month, Garbo said it won’t publicize drug possession charges in order to take an “active stance toward equity.” It cites research about the disproportionate percentage of Black people who are arrested for drug charges compared to white people. The company also says drug-related offenses don’t meaningfully predict “gender-based violence,” which is what the brand is primarily concerned with preventing. Garbo also doesn’t disclose traffic violations.
The background checks on Tinder won’t be free, but Match is working with Garbo to figure out how to price them so they’re accessible to most users. It’s unclear whether this will be an a la carte feature or one tied to the brand’s subscription tiers. The team will begin testing and building out capabilities for Garbo on Tinder in the coming months, and once Garbo is integrated into Tinder, other Match Group US brands, which include OkCupid, Hinge, and Match, could follow.
Garbo’s tool isn’t live yet, so we can’t test its accuracy, but this could upend how anonymous people feel on a dating app, particularly on Tinder, which has consistently deemphasized personal details like a last name and full bio on profiles. Match won’t share its users’ data with Garbo, but users can run a background check so long as they get their date’s last name or phone number, which they likely would want to share anyway if they plan on moving forward with dating.