Match Group dating app Hinge is rolling out a new verification feature next month that will allow users to prove who they say they are by filming a short video selfie, Wired reports. The optional feature will prompt users to record a short clip, which Match Group will then compare against the photos posted on their profiles using a combination of machine learning tools and human moderation. If a user passes the test, their profile gets a “Verified” badge, providing an additional assurance to would-be daters.
The launch of the feature comes as the amount of money lost as part of so-called “romance scams” is soaring. In February, the FTC reported that people lost a record $547 million to these scams in 2021, an increase of 80 percent compared to the previous year. The exact specifics of the scams vary, but often involve asking for help while claiming to be suffering from a financial or health crisis, or needing money to claim an inheritance or close an important business deal.
“We are committed to investing in new updates and technologies that prevent harm to our daters”
Scammers may also use dating apps to encourage their victims to “invest” in cryptocurrencies, while actually having them transfer their funds to illegitimate cryptocurrency exchanges, The New York Times reports. “A growing trend in 2021 was scammers using romance as a hook to lure people into bogus investments, especially cryptocurrency,” the FTC says, noting that $139 million of cryptocurrency was reported as lost to romance scams last year.
“As romance scammers find new ways to defraud people, we are committed to investing in new updates and technologies that prevent harm to our daters,” said Jarryd Boyd, Hinge’s director of brand communications. After its initial launch next month, Hinge says its video verification feature should be available globally by December.
Hinge is relatively late to offering a verification option compared to other dating apps. Bumble introduced a photo verification system in 2016, and at the time said it was the first app in the US to do so. Wired notes that other dating services owned by Match Group including Tinder and Plenty of Fish already offer verification options, and that other services like OKCupid and Match.com should be getting similar features “in the coming months.”
By relying on video rather than photographic selfies as a lot of these other services do, Hinge’s verification process should theoretically be harder to trick. But one privacy and security researcher quoted by Wired suggested that the rise of deepfake technology may eventually enable scammers to trick Hinge’s system.
These problems suggest that prospective daters should continue to exercise caution when chatting with strangers online, especially if they make excuses to not meet in person or want you to transfer money. If you match with someone claiming to be a former J-Pop star and model studying abroad and looking for love, it might just be a little too good to be true.