Have you ever met someone online whose real-life appearance didn't match up with the photos on their dating profile? The dating app Blume, which bills itself as "the honest dating app," wants to help you. By making users send each other selfies as they're matched, Blume prevents its users from "catfishing" — that is, pretending to be someone online who they're not.
According to a report in Glamour, one in 10 online dating profiles is fake. By making users show proof of their identities, Blume catches deceptive profiles (or, more likely, prevents catfish from joining in the first place).
Co-founder and CEO Daniel Delouya tells Bustle: "It all started out when we tried a couple of dating apps and thought there were a lot of problems with the existing solutions. The biggest problem was who’s actually the behind the profile you’re matching with, which creates a lot of uncertainties and generally just aids bad communication between users. The second biggest was lack of emotional connection between people meeting online. We really wanted to solve these problems and make online dating a lot more personal, fun and safe at the same time."
I signed up for the app to get a better idea of what it's like. Here are some things I learned:
How It Works:
After you match with another user, you're both prompted to send a selfie, which lasts for seven seconds after your match opens it and then fades into the ether (or the cloud, or wherever Snapchat photos go after they die).
I didn't think I could take a selfie I was pleased with when I'm lying in bed without any primping, which is usually the state I'm in when I'm clicking around on dating apps, but Delouya informed me that you can reuse your selfie up to five times if you don't feel like you’re in a selfie mood.
If you both accept each other's selfies, you see each other's full profiles and a chat line opens. If one of you rejects the other's picture (ouch!), you no longer see them. Before you start using the app, it tells you screenshots are not allowed and asks you to click "I understand." If you take them anyway, you're banned from the app.
I'm not saying anyone should feel bad about their #Iwokeuplikethis selfies, but seriously, who looks like these people on a day-to-day basis?
The experience of having someone reject my selfie was harsh.
Another downside to using Blume over most mainstream dating apps is that you can only see their photo, workplace, age, and location before deciding which way to swipe. I actually read Tinder bios — a hot photo alone won't do it for me. Perhaps I'm in the minority, though, and you do get more information once you match with someone.
Though it might induce users' insecurities, the inability to stage photos could also be a good thing. It's common to arrive on a date and realize the photos on someone's profile misrepresent them, even if they're not catfishing, and this feature prevents that from happening. Blume's spontaneous selfie policy ensures that you see what someone looks like right that moment with little or no time to prepare. Knowing this means that users can be confident that the investment they put into messaging other users will be returned.
"On other existing dating apps, it’s hard to tell whether a person is actually interested to communicate or not, since most people just care about getting lots of matches, which works as an ego boost — exactly the same thing as getting many Instagram likes," Delouya says, "This is why people rarely get the conversation going on the existing solutions out there."
Since Blume users are required to show more interest than just a swipe, "both parties know that they’re both keen on making the match happen, which makes it a lot easier to get the conversation going," he continued. And anyone who has used Tinder would probably agree that any online dating conversation that lasts is a breath of fresh air.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article did not mention selfies could be reused up to five times on the app.
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Images: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle; Blume(3)