Even Pennsylvania registered sex offender Seth Mull, whose 17-year history of sex crimes convictions began as a teen, used Match Group’s dating sites; in 2017, Plenty of Fish didn’t flag his eight-year registry status before matching him with a woman who later accused him of rape.
Mull is now serving life in prison for her rape and two more rapes, among other sex crimes.
Other response protocols aren’t standardized across Match Group apps.
In a brief statement, the company said it “takes the safety, security and well-being of our users very seriously.” Match Group said “a relatively small amount of the tens of millions of people using one of our dating services have fallen victim to criminal activity by predators.” It added, “We believe any incident of misconduct or criminal behavior is one too many.”Interviews with more than a dozen former Match Group employees — from customer service representatives and security managers at Ok Cupid to senior executives at Tinder — paint a different picture.
The spokesperson described the steps the company takes to ensure customer safety on its platforms — from blocking users accused of sexual assault to checking across its apps for accused users’ accounts and flagging them on a companywide distribution list.
For nearly a decade, its flagship website, Match, has issued statements and signed agreements promising to protect users from sexual predators.
The site has a policy of screening customers against government sex offender registries.
Acknowledging the limitations, the spokesperson said, “There are definitely registered sex offenders on our free products.” CJI analyzed more than 150 incidents of sexual assault involving dating apps, culled from a decade of news reports, civil lawsuits, and criminal records.
Most incidents occurred in the past five years and during the app users’ first in-person meeting, in parking lots, apartments, and dorm rooms.