If you’ve done online dating, you know how the messages really ramp up before meeting. But have you ever stopped and thought, “I wish I could just run a quick background check here”?
Well, Tinder is making that a reality. Starting this week, you’ll be able to do a background check on someone you’re talking with. Everyone gets two for free … but after that, they’ll cost $2.50 a pop.
They’re working with a nonprofit provider called Garbo, which is focused on violent offenses. So it’s not going to rat you out for that time you got a B.S. ticket for jaywalking.
It sounds like a good idea … but there are a few issues.
For starters, Garbo says they’re able to operate using information that you might have prior to a first date … like first and last name, and a phone number.
And you can give additional info, like their age and birthday. They’ll even accept a Zodiac sign to narrow it down, because users can share those on Tinder.
But since that info may be imperfect, Garbo can only provide a “rating” estimate for the accuracy of the results … basically, that they’d have the right person.
And even if it IS accurate, that might not be helpful. Garbo admits that, “most violent individuals never interact with the criminal justice system.” And experts warn that it could “reproduce inequality,” due to the biases in law enforcement.
Garbo also makes you promise that you won’t use it for other purposes, like “employment or tenant screening, credit or insurance, or hiring household workers.”
So why doesn’t Tinder just make people pass a basic background check to join … rather than putting it on users, especially if they’re paying for it?
Tinder claims they can’t, because for privacy reasons they don’t collect enough info on users to be able to do it. And the implication is that the users are voluntarily GIVING that info to people they’ve been interacting with through the service.