Online dating can be a strange place. Some of the common things you see in profile pictures are just a little bit odd — like mirror selfies or someone holding up a massive fish they caught — while other things can be more disturbing, like someone posing with a gun. But one dating app is setting out to change that. Bumble, the popular online dating app, is taking a huge step forward in the wake of the recent Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. On Monday, Bumble announced that it is banning guns from profile photos for the app's nearly 30 million users, the New York Times reported. A team of around 5,000 moderators will look through new profiles, as well as existing photos, for photos with firearms. Bumble's CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd told the New York Times, "We just want to create a community where people feel at ease, where they do not feel threatened, and we just don’t see guns fitting into that equation."
Having guns on display while we're living in an environment of senseless killing feels like making light of gun use or, worse, glorifying it. Bumble said that one exception to this rule will be for users who are in the military or law enforcement and in uniform in the picture.
Mashable also reports that people will be able to challenge their photos being removed if they feel they have specific reasons for the photo, like if they are a competitive sports shooter. But, photos from Instagram that are integrated into someone's Bumble profiles will not be monitored.
The choice to ban firearm photos makes sense for Bumble. Bumble was founded to allow women to make the first move online, so they could avoid the onslaught of online harassment that women tend to receive on dating apps. The app has always been passionate about creating a safe space — and this isn't the first move they've made to create a safer online environment, like banning hate speech and an alt-right leader from using the platform.
In a blog post announcing the ban, Bumble explained:
"In the past, when we’ve had an opportunity to make our platform safer, we’ve taken action, banning hate speech and inappropriate sexual content from the Bumble app.
As mass shootings continue to devastate communities across the country, it’s time to state unequivocally that gun violence is not in line with our values, nor do these weapons belong on Bumble.
From today on, we will begin the process of moderating all new and previously uploaded photos for the presence of guns.* Our terms and conditions will be updated to reflect this decision."
It's refreshing — and heartening — to see a tech executive face the gun crisis head-on. “If I could police every other social platform in the world, I would," Herd told The New York Times.
It's a proactive move — and a necessary one. It's someone making a common-sense move and doing the right thing, despite the backlash they will inevitably face.
In fact, the backlash is already starting, with people invoking the Second Amendment and criticizing Bumble's move.
Some users even thought that taking guns out of profiles was a problem because seeing guns in photos actually let them know which users to avoid.
In a way, I get that sentiment. When I was online dating, someone holding a gun was an automatic left swipe for me. But allowing people to post photos with guns is participating in the trivializing of violence and glorification of gun use — and that's not OK when there are over 13,000 people who die from gun violence in a single year.
Bumble is also putting its money where its mouth is, pairing the move with a generous donation. They will be donating $100,000 to the March For Our Lives foundation which was founded by survivors of the Parkland shooting.
Standing up to the glorification of guns is a great, symbolic step — and one that I think more companies should adopt. Bumble is showing that you can just go ahead and do the right thing. So who's next?