Dating Apps

Key findings

In order to gather insights on cyberviolence and online dating platforms, our team conducted multiple focus groups with young people in the fall of 2015. They also interviewed those in medical and police response who are engaged in cyberviolence work. After analyzing the information gathered from these interviews we determined:

  • Social media is changing the way people relate to each other, however, this has not resulted in younger people having fewer social skills – they navigate their relationships both on- and off-line with sophistication.
  • High school age youth use general social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to conduct their romantic lives and exploration of sexuality– few use dating apps. University age participants use a mix of dating specific apps and general social media platforms.
  • Online dating is not inherently risky, dangerous or harmful. However, harm experienced and facilitated by online interaction is as real as harm caused by in person interactions. The emotional, mental, social and financial impacts of online gender based violence and cyberviolence must be taken as seriously as physical violence.
  • Patterns of cyberviolence related to online dating and hookup culture include, but are not limited to, sexual assault, stalking, harassment, non consensual distribution of intimate images, recording of sexual assault, technology facilitated intimate partner violence, and child abuse.
  • Many participants appreciate online interfaces that filter content results and facilitate moving to an in-person meeting. However, at the same time, they recognized the problematic one-dimensionality of the filtering process

Key Recommendations

  • Young women want online dating platforms to recognize the gendered nature of cyberviolence by developing more nuanced policies, definitions and community standards to address it.
  • Online dating is not inherently risky, dangerous or harmful. Intentional efforts by platform developers to structure online safety , educate users about healthy relationships, promote pro social behaviours, and skilfully moderate violent behaviours contributed to a sex-positive, consent-based, and safer experience for all users.
  • All social media platforms should be designed with online gender-based violence and safety in mind, regardless of whether they are directly marketed as dating apps or not.
  • Users of all genders need resources on how to safely navigate online dating platforms. However, men, women and LGBTTQ+ users also have gender and sexual orientation-specific needs that can be addressed through online platforms.
  • Social media platforms can develop & implement quality content filtering tools to help users filter, block & screen out problematic and abusive content. Quality content filtering allows users to control their experience online by removing offensive, abusive and harmful content that is no longer serving them

More content to come!