In the midst of Tinder’s catfishing catastrophe, an app called Noonlight offers a panic-relieving solution 

Valeria Velazquez // Contributor 

Cynthia Tran Vo // Illustrator

On Jan.23, 2020, the giant of dating apps launched two new functions dedicated to the safety of its users. Tinder, in collaboration with Noonlight, added both photo verification and a panic button to its app. Sounds great, right? However, in order for the functions to work, the user needs to have both apps installed on their device. Unfortunately, the Noonlight App is still not available in Canada, so we won’t have access to these safety features yet. However, the functions might be available in the future, and the fact that they are being tested in the US will give us a perfect opportunity to discover if they will actually work. 

Photo verification is designed to verify and authenticate the users. It is designed to decrease the number of people who catfish and trick subjects by avoiding their real identity. The way that I see it is that, yeah, it is going to be cool to not get tricked thinking you are talking to a hot supermodel when you are actually talking with an old creepy dude (trust me, this happens a lot) but I think there will still be ways around it. Tricky people always find ways. Not to scare or anything (or to give ideas), but a person could just not authenticate their account and make excuses for it. For all we know, people could say that it’s just not available in their region yet or that they don’t have the newest version of the app, or any other stupid explanation as to why their photos are not verified.. 

The other feature, and the one that is being the most highlighted, is the panic button. The way this will work is the following; Users sync the apps, and whenever they go on a date they place the details on the Noonlight app. These include who they’re going with, as well as when and where the date takes place. This will activate a silent panic button on the app which the users can use if they ever feel endangered or uncomfortable by their date. This “ideal scenario” assumes that the subject will be able to reach for their phone and press the button to ask for help. However, we all know that this is not the way things always happen.  

Someone might find themselves in a position where they’re unable to reach for their phone when they feel at risk. They could be drugged without realizing, they could be away from their phone, or they could have had their phone taken away from them. The fact is, dangerous situations can happen with or without a safety feature on the dating app. Yes, a panic button might reduce the probability of people trying to commit an act of violence, although it’s important to keep in mind that people can always find ways around safeguards. We still need to be careful. 

Apps like these should have filters, regulations, and tools to care for their users—but the fact that they are trying is a step forward. It’s not going to be enough to keep someone out of danger, but steps towards creating a safe environment on dating apps are finally being taken. We still have a long way to go to get to online and real life dating communities where safety is a given and not something we have to worry about every time. 

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