New LGBTQ Safety Feature On Tinder Could Save Naive Travellers
Dating app Tinder has introduced a 'Traveller Alert' system to protect its LGBTQ users.
The update will be rolled out across the app in the coming days, and will warn travellers if they have entered a country that criminalises the LGBTQ community.
The company teamed up with the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association to identify countries that pose dangers to LGBTQ travellers.
"(Travellers) can take extra caution and not unknowingly place themselves in danger for simply being themselves," Tinder said in a statement.
Nearly seventy countries, including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Russia, have been identified as having laws that criminalise LGBTQ status or countries that do not offer protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
When the app is opened in a listed country, a warning message will appear on the screen.
"Based on your geographical location, it appears you're in a place where the LGBTQ community may be penalised," it says.
"We want you to have fun, but your safety is our #1 priority.
"Please proceed with caution and take extra care when making new matches and meeting with people you do not know."
An option to hide the user's profile while in a potentially dangerous country is also offered.
Sydney man George, who identifies as part of the LGTBQ community, said the feature is a valuable tool for naive travellers who may not know they are entering a potentially dangerous area.
"It's a fantastic feature, especially for those who haven't been travelling been a lot," he told 10 daily.
"It's a good tool to educate and remind people some areas still aren't still as safe and accepting as they are used to."
Any tool that can better protect the LGBTQ community is a positive, said George.
However, another member of the LGBTQ community, Lauren, told 10 daily it's a person's responsibility to research places they are going, rather than rely on an app.
"If you're queer, it's highly likely you conduct your own research on a place before going there, such as asking a queer family or friend in real life or online," the Sydneysider said.
"This information is more likely to be trusted than an app filter because it's based on real people's experiences."
Lauren also pointed out that the idea of "safe area" is complicated, as she has experienced abuse in areas of Sydney not usually considered as "unsafe" areas.
The safety of dating apps for the LGBTQ community has been a worry for some time.
In 2017, gay dating app Grindr sent safety messages to users in Egypt after police began using the app to arrest gay men.
“It will make people take more precautions ... we know that the police are under pressure to arrest people and they are going about doing that through all the avenues that they have,” Jack Harrison-Quintana, a director at Grindr, told Reuters.
In other countries, such as Indonesia, China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Lebanon, the app is either partially or completely censored.