Tinder is rolling out a new feature in its application that will adequately protect users who identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ community. The update aims to safeguard LGBT users who wish to enter a hostile country.
Tinder’s latest safety feature is called “Traveler Alert” and will come to all iOS and Android devices tomorrow and will be available to approximately 70 countries around the world, all of which have barbaric laws that criminalize LGBTQ status.
The dating app is popular for allowing users to connect and meet within a provided distance. Depending on the type of service a user has—free version or paid premium—Tinder can connect people from different countries.
In the past, registered Tinder users are automatically seen in the countries they arrive at, no matter if they have opened the application or not. All it needs is to determine the type and location of the Internet the phone is connected.
Recognizing that this feature can potentially put its users in harm, Tinder launched Traveler Alert.
The new safety feature automatically hides Tinder accounts that identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ community the moment the application discovers that it is in any of the 70 hostile countries indicated.
Tinder’s press release explains, “Once users have left the country or changed their location, then they will be visible again on the app.”
The Travel Alert will also pop up on the screen of Tinder users to notify them about the possible threat that they are situated. Users living in these countries will see the same alert when they open the app for the first time.
Still, users will be able to decide whether they can stay hidden in that country or if they want to make their profile public. If they do opt to be shown, their sexual orientation or gender identity and location information won’t be shown on their profile until they leave that specific country.
The same safety feature will also be available to Tinder’s Passport feature that connects and match people anywhere in the world.
“The purpose of this is to protect users who could be persecuted for their identity in these countries,” a spokesperson from Tinder said.
People who want to learn more will be sent to ILGA’s resources on sexual orientation laws.
ILGA World or the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association is a “worldwide federation of 1592 member organizations from 155 countries campaigning for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex rights,” per its site. Specifically, it gave Tinder information on where and when to deploy this alert, based off of data from its latest State-Sponsored Homophobia report.
ILGA’s executive director André du Plessis praised Tinder’s effort to warn its users.
“We work hard to change practices, laws, and attitudes that put LGBTQ people at risk — including the use of dating apps to target our community — but in the meantime, the safety of our communities also depends on supporting their digital safety,” he said.
Although the world has seen a more positive direction for the LGBTQ community, especially for developed countries, being gay remains illegal in other parts of the world, including 34 countries in Africa.
In March, ILGA found 69 countries considered same-sex acts illegal. Nine of which, including Iran, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia allow extreme measure that lets prosecutors pursue the death penalty against same-sex acts and relationships.
Earlier this year, Brunei’s Sultan initially wanted to move against the LGBTQ community by allowing prosecutors to whip them in public legally or to throw stones at them until they die.
Fortunately, after receiving tremendous backlash and condemnation from the international community, Brunei decided to back down from the oppressive law.
“We serve all communities – no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation – and we are proud to offer features that help keep them safe. This alert is an example of the many steps that we are taking to protect our users around the world,” Elie Seidman, CEO of Tinder, said in a statement.
“It is unthinkable that, in 2019, there are still countries with legislation in place that deprives people of this basic right,” Seidman said.
Furthermore, the latest update to the application was part of the company’s belief that “everyone should be able to love who they want to love.”