Abusive users could be banned from dating apps under new industry rules

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jul5,2024
Online dating apps have pledged to escalate safety threats more swiftly to police as they try to improve protections for Australians using their platforms.
The companies behind Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, Grindr, RSVP and eHarmony are among those to adopt what is being called a “world-leading” voluntary industry code.
Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the government was playing catch up to ensure the safety of millions of users hoping to connect with potential partners.

“Online dating is now the most common way to meet a partner in Australia,” she said.

“These services did not develop overnight, and the lack of action over the last decade means that regulation has not kept pace with technology.
Rowland praised the engagement of the dating industry giants to help come up with clear public commitments that would improve security and “crack down on abuse and de-platform dangerous users”.

“This world-leading industry code will improve safety for Australians using dating apps and help them make choices about the apps they use,” she said.

What are the new rules for dating apps?

The companies will increase engagement with law enforcement agencies, including proactively escalating complaints when there is an “imminent threat” to safety.
The code will involve terminating accounts that violate safety policies and putting in place systems to detect harmful incidents as well as transparent complaint and reporting mechanisms.

Platforms will also publish regular transparency reports detailing the number of Australian accounts terminated, and a rating system tracking whether they are meeting their commitments.

Why has the new code been introduced?

Last year, a series of experts from the online dating industry met with state and territory governments, law enforcement agencies and NGOs for the National Roundtable for Online Dating Safety.

The roundtable examined the best way to protect Australians navigating dating online and the options available to prevent exploitation, reduce harm, and encourage safety improvements to online dating and matchmaking services.

The discussions resulted in the new code, which will be put into place over the next three months and be enforced by a three-member committee empowered to issue formal warnings and suspend or remove participants.

How common are safety incidents?

The roundtable itself was convened in response to that found three in four survey respondents had been subjected to sexual violence on dating apps in the last five years.
The most common behaviour reported was sexual harassment, as well as abusive and threatening language and unsolicited sexual images.
Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said it was important for these spaces to be safe from sexual violence and abuse.
“Dating app violence is a form of gender-based violence, and it has to end,” she said.

“We must create communities — both in the physical and virtual world — where everyone is treated equally and with respect.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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