Garbo, a nonprofit organization that provided background checks to users of some of Match Group’s apps, is ending its partnership with the company, as reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal. As a result, Garbo will be shutting down its consumer-facing business and Match will be pausing its background checks in the affected apps.
Match Group first started offering background checks on Tinder in 2021 before rolling it out to its other dating apps, including Match and Stir, last year. The integration let users run a limited number of free background checks on a potential date using just their last name and phone number, allowing users to see public reports about violence, past arrests, convictions, and restraining orders.
While it’s not clear what went wrong between the two companies, Garbo appears to place the blame on Match Group. In a post on Garbo’s blog, founder Kathryn Kosmides says she made the decision to shut down the service after facing “a lack of support and real initiative from online platforms” as well as “continuous harassment and threats by bad actors on these platforms.”
“Most social networks, dating apps and online platforms care more about the bottom-line”
According to the Journal, there were also some internal conflicts about how the background checks should work. While Match Group reportedly wanted to display a badge on people’s Tinder profiles to signal they had clean criminal histories, Kosmides disagreed, telling the Journal, “You can’t white-list someone or give them a ‘good guy, bad guy’ identity verification.” The Journal also points out that Tinder never really advertised the background checks to its users and that it was never made available within the Tinder app on iOS.
“It’s become clear that most online platforms aren’t legitimately committed to trust and safety for their users,” Kosmides says. “There are some great companies that do take our mission to heart, but the sad reality is that most social networks, dating apps and online platforms care more about the bottom-line than they care about you.”
The partnership’s discontinuation comes almost one year after Tracey Breeden, Match Group’s first head of safety and social advocacy who also spearheaded the partnership with Garbo, left the company. Match Group says it has plans to find a new background check provider. Meanwhile, Garbo will remain a 501c3 nonprofit organization and is shifting its focus toward creating tools to help protect users “from gender-based violence and other interpersonal harms in the digital age.”
“While we are disappointed that we were unable to come to an agreement, we are in advanced conversations with alternate providers and will announce a new partnership soon,” Match group spokesperson Kayla Whaling tells The Verge. “We are committed to continuously investing and building industry-leading features that give users more information and control over who they choose to connect with on our platforms.”
Update August 17th, 5:35PM ET: Clarified in the headline that Match Group is pausing background checks in Tinder and other apps.
Correction August 17th, 8:54PM ET: A previous version of this article implied that Match ended the relationship. We regret the error.