If you’ve ever gone into a Tinder hookup wondering if maaaaaaaaaybe you were pairing up with a Bad News Bear, you can now find out before you even swipe right. A new website called CreepShield tells you if your date is a sex offender in five seconds flat.
CreepShield uses powerful facial recognition software to identify offenders. All you have to do is copy the URL of any headshot, paste it into the CreepShield search engine, and hit the big red button. The site then scans the photo against a database full of images of convicted sex offenders. You can also upload a photo directly to the search engine, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that unless you’re a super sneaky photographer.
Here’s what my initial reaction to this piece of news was:
First off: Yes, I do think anything that increases safety when it comes to online dating is a useful thing. Unsuspecting rubes get preyed on all the time through online dating sites; whether it’s simple catfishing, suckering victims out of thousands of dollars, or even something more insidious, it happens, and it’s awful. CreepShield might be a way to cut down on these sorts of crimes. Said its creator, Kevin Alan Tussy, in a press release, “Criminals often hide behind aliases online, but CreepShield uses facial recognition software to check for facial similarities and brings up potential matches from a database of over 475,000 registered sex offenders.” He continued, “We see facial recognition as a tool that can definitely help make online dating safer. While this technology can’t identify everyone out there with bad intentions, it’s a huge step in the right direction.” True.
Let's take this conversation to the next level, though. If we believe in rehabilitation, should sex offenders who have served their time be forever considered the pariahs of the dating world? Let's look at the figures for recidivism: Consider that in 2008, sex crime researcher Jill Levenson discovered that the average member of the general population believes that 75 percent of sex offenders will reoffend. Researchers R. Karl Hanson and Kelly E. Morton-Bourgon found that, in truth, 14 percent of adult sex offenders reoffend over a period of five to six years. Recidivism rates do increase over time though, reaching about 24 percent over 15 years. I'd rather not take the one-in-four chance that I am dating one of those people who has or will reoffend.
I hate that we live in a world where something like this is necessary in the first place, but I can’t really blame the software for the state of the world. Of course we should all exercise common sense and safety, both IRL and online; CreepShield will hopefully make a positive impact and make online dating at least a little bit safer. And if you’re playing the dating game right now, do brush up on your online dating safety, OK? Don’t give a stranger $70,000. Bad idea.