Match Group (MTCH), the parent company of such dating apps as Match, Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and OkCupid announced on Thursday that it has invested in and partnered with Noonlight -- a first-of-its-kind safety company that provides emergency response services and personal safety products. The technology allows users to contact emergency services and provide "highly accurate location data within the Noonlight app, without requiring a 911 phone call or the ability to talk or text."
The company will roll out the safety features to all its dating apps, beginning with Tinder, where the service will be available beginning on Jan. 28. Match Group said the move was part of its "ongoing commitment to creating and investing in the latest technology to combat bad actors and provide users with tools to help keep them safer."
How it works
The integration of Noonlight safety tools will allow users to enter details about their upcoming dates into the Tinder Timeline feature, including who they're meeting, where they're going, and what time the meetup will occur.
If the date takes a bad turn and the user feels unsafe, they can manually trigger an alarm button within the app, which then sends highly accurate location data to authorities who can dispatch local police, fire, or EMS responders. By holding down the digital panic button, the user triggers a silent alarm that can be disabled with a four-digit PIN in the event of a false alarm.
Noonlight can also be connected to wearable smart devices like the Apple Watch in the event a user isn't capable of triggering an alarm. Once notified, dispatchers will attempt to contact the user to see if everything is okay.
Tinder users will also be able to add a badge to their dating profiles that signals they use the Noonlight app, which the company believes will act as a deterrent to those with malicious intentions.
Addressing safety concerns
This is part of a broader move by Match Group to promote safety on its online dating platforms. Tinder has plans to add a verification system that will involve taking a number of selfies in a variety of poses that will be compared to the picture on the user's dating profile using facial recognition algorithms. Tinder will then provide a blue verification badge to users who participate in and pass the screening.
The moves follow reports that emerged late last year, charging that Match Group didn't conduct screenings against publicly-available sexual offender registries for those using its free products, which allowed known sex offenders to use its dating apps. Match countered by saying that while it does conduct the screenings for subscribers, it doesn't collect enough information from free users to institute uniform checks.
A large and growing market
The online dating market is a growing and lucrative one that's expected to top $9.2 billion annually by 2025, achieving compound annual growth of 5%, according to Allied Market Research. For its part, Match Group generated revenue of $1.96 billion over the trailing-12-month period, up 19% year over year, while increasing revenue by 22% in its most recent quarter. This illustrates that the company is growing much faster than the overall market while also leaving plenty of room for future growth.
Adding technology and tools that will provide its users with a safer online dating experience will help Match Group remain the preeminent choice for singles and investors.