Tech

You'll Soon Be Able To Do Background Checks On Your Favorite Dating Apps

It could make the vetting process easier.

Some online dating apps like Tinder and Match will hopefully be offering background checks via Garbo...
Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Even if you’re an online dating pro, meeting up with a stranger from the internet can be nerve-wracking — and even dangerous. It’s why you and your friends put on detective hats and dive deep into the internet to search for your match’s entire life history. But now that some dating apps plan to offer background checks, it could make the vetting process a little easier.

Match Group, the company that owns apps like Tinder and Hinge, just announced a partnership with Garbo, a background checking platform founded in 2018 by Kathryn Kosmides, a survivor of gender-based violence. The goal, according to a Match Group statement, is to help “proactively prevent gender-based violence by providing people with more transparency and information about whomever they connect with.”

Using nothing more than your potential date’s first name and phone number, Garbo can scour through public records for reports of violence or abuse, including arrests, convictions, restraining orders, harassment, and other violent crimes. The check won’t include arrests related to traffic violations or drug possession since those disproportionately impact marginalized communities.

"Before Garbo, abusers were able to hide behind expensive, hard-to-find public records and reports of their violence; now that's much harder," Kosmides said. "Being able to reach historically underserved populations is fundamental to Garbo's mission, and the partnership with Match will help us connect with these communities."

Tinder

While it isn’t live yet, Match Group plans to begin testing and building out capabilities for Garbo on Tinder in the coming months. It isn’t currently clear what the service will look like within the app, but the company plans to share more information soon.

What Tinder won’t do is store users’ background-check information, according to The Washington Post. It also won’t provide Garbo with info. It’ll be up to you, the user, to do so.

Match

According to The Washington Post, the feature could eventually expand to Match Group’s other dating sites, including Match.com.

Match Group has yet to determine how much the service will cost. But since Garbo is not-for-profit, it’ll certainly be more affordable than traditional background checks — and a lot faster.

“If you’re trying to make a safety decision, you’re not going to pay $95,” Kosmides said. “And you don't have time to wait six weeks for the results.”

Hinge

Then we have Hinge, the dating app that is “designed to be deleted.” And who knows? Adding Garbo — and weeding out all the red flag folks — might just be what helps you find “The One.”

According to Match Group, the Garbo partnership aligns with the company’s commitment “to investing in the latest technology and third-party expertise to combat bad actors and empower users with tools to help keep them safer.”

That said, even with a background check, it’ll still be important to take safety precautions when going on a date. You’ll want to meet up in a public place, leave information with a friend — like where you’re going and the name of your date — and text a loved one as soon as you get back home.

OKCupid

OKCupid, another Match Group app, asks multiple-choice questions to help guide you towards people who share your interests — at which point it’ll be entirely up to you to keep the convo rolling.

While nothing is fool-proof, these pre-date chats are yet another way to figure out if someone has any red flags, such as a history of abusive relationships or other behavior that would put you at risk.

Once you learn their first name and phone number, that’s when you’ll be able to take the extra step with Garbo and get the background check.

POF (Plenty of Fish)

As one of the largest dating sites under Match Group, it’ll be interesting to see if Plenty of Fish rolls out a background checking option, too. Because when it comes to technology that keeps people safer, the more widespread it becomes, the better.