Tinder introduces safety feature to protect LGBTQ travelers

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer users will also no longer automatically appear on Tinder when they open the app in these locations. Instead, users can choose whether to remain hidden on Tinder or make their profile public while they are traveling. If they choose the latter option, the app will still hide their gender identity and sexual orientation from their profile, so this information can’t be weaponized by others.

Tinder worked with the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), an advocacy organization that brings together more than 1,000 global LGBTQ organizations, to determine what countries should be included as part of the alert. The countries include South Sudan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Nigeria.

“Tinder’s new security feature is a welcome step in safety-by-design. It utilizes design strategies — defaults, aesthetics, opt-in buttons — to protect users rather than collect data,” Ari Ezra Waldman, director of the Innovation Center for Law and Technology at New York Law School, told NBC News in an email. “By automatically hiding a user or their sexual orientation, the app defaults to safety in hostile territories. It deploys a big red warning screen to get users’ attention. And it forces users to opt-in to more publicity about who they are.”

In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that use of online dating apps among young adults had tripled over three years, and experts say this number is assuredly higher in the LGBTQ community, where stigma and discrimination can make it difficult to meet people in person. One study reported that more than a million gay and bisexual men logged into a dating app every day in 2013, while another from 2017 states that twice as many LGBTQ singles use dating apps as heterosexual users.

Tinder says it will allow users to opt to see people of their same orientation first, but won’t let people filter out by sexual orientation. For example, if a user identifies as a straight man, they may be matched with a trans woman who is interested in men.

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Tinder introduces safety feature to protect LGBTQ travelers

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer users will also no longer automatically appear on Tinder when they open the app in these locations. Instead, users can choose whether to remain hidden on Tinder or make their profile public while they are traveling. If they choose the latter option, the app will still hide their gender identity and sexual orientation from their profile, so this information can’t be weaponized by others.

“Tinder’s new security feature is a welcome step in safety-by-design. It utilizes design strategies — defaults, aesthetics, opt-in buttons — to protect users rather than collect data,” Ari Ezra Waldman, director of the Innovation Center for Law and Technology at New York Law School, told NBC News in an email. “By automatically hiding a user or their sexual orientation, the app defaults to safety in hostile territories. It deploys a big red warning screen to get users’ attention. And it forces users to opt-in to more publicity about who they are.”

Tinder worked with the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), an advocacy organization that brings together more than 1,000 global LGBTQ organizations, to determine what countries should be included as part of the alert. The countries include South Sudan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran and Nigeria.

In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that use of online dating apps among young adults had tripled over three years, and experts say this number is assuredly higher in the LGBTQ community, where stigma and discrimination can make it difficult to meet people in person. One study reported that more than a million gay and bisexual men logged into a dating app every day in 2013, while another from 2017 states that twice as many LGBTQ singles use dating apps as heterosexual users.

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