Dating app Bumble plans to ban users who body shame others - what it means

By Sarah Wilson
Friday, 29th January 2021, 2:01 pm
Updated Friday, 29th January 2021, 2:01 pm
The app will warn users if they use inappropriate language on the app (Photo: ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)
The app will warn users if they use inappropriate language on the app (Photo: ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Popular dating app, Bumble, is introducing an algorithm to detect body shaming in messages, and has pledged to ban users who perpetuate it.

The news comes in light of ongoing concerns around abuse on dating apps, with a Bumble-commissioned survey of 1,003 people finding that one in four (23 per cent) people living in the UK have been body shamed online, either on social media or on dating apps.

The app, which allows women only to instigate conversations with other users, will use a new algorithm to detect any language which indicates an attack on personal appearance. It will also flag language deemed to be racist, homophobic or fatphobic.

Human moderators will then look at the accounts flagged, determining whether further action - such as banning the user - may be required.

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    Users will not be automatically banned for using language flagged by the algorithm. Instead, they'll receive a warning through the app.

    If the behaviour is repeated, or in cases where language used is particularly harmful or offensive, the user will be removed from the app.

    Bumble moderators will share resources to help the user learn how to change their behaviour or language to be less hurtful in future.

    Over half of women using dating apps have been harassed

    This isn't the first time the app has introduced technology to protect users from harmful interactions. In 2019, a feature which automatically detected and blurred unsolicited nude images was rolled out.

    This feature alerts the recipient of the image who can chose to view, delete or report the image.

    The app plans to further review its photo moderation policies, having already banned shirtless mirror selfies and indoor photos in bras or swimsuits in 2016.

    A 2016 Consumer's Research survey of dating apps found that over half of women had experienced harassment on apps, compared with just 20 per cent of men.

    Further to this, a 2017 Pew survey found that 18 per cent of women between the ages of 18 to 29 reported being sexually harassed online, compared with nine per cent of men in the same age range.