Dating apps have revolutionized the way we date. You don’t need to struggle over where to meet potential dates – you can do it over the privacy of your smartphone, with just a swipe to show you’re interested.
However, the safety of these apps is being called out by the Federal Trade Commission. They found that some of them do not prevent children from using them. Apple and Google listened and removed three dating apps from the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Dating Apps Removed
The dangers of this are obvious. If children are allowed on dating apps, it can open them up to potentially dire circumstances and potential harm. Certainly child, predators could utilize those apps to find potential victims.
FTC attorney Lisa Weintraub Schifferle issued a parental advisory that the apps FastMeet, Meet24, and Meet4U, all created by Wildec, a Ukrainian company, appeared to be in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the FTC Act.
The FTC sent a letter to Wildec in early May warning them that the apps do not prevent users who identify themselves as being under 13 from using them or being visible to other users of the apps.
FTC staff tested Meet24’s search function and found that they were able to find users near them who identified as being as young as 12 years old.
COPPA requires app developers to get consent from parents before children under 13 are asked for their personal information. FTC informed Wildec that failure to do so violates COPPA because they “appear to have actual knowledge that children are using your apps.”
The FTC will follow up on this as well to see if Wildec has made changes to their apps to comply with COPPA.
Following this warning by the FTC, Google and Apple removed the apps from their app stores.
Earlier this year a Sunday Times report found that since 2015 30 incidents of child rape were linked to their use of the Tinder and Grindr dating apps. This led to the government in the UK considering legislation to require age verification checks.
Dangers to All Ages
Certainly, this would be dangerous to children older than 13 as well. Teenagers could be just as likely to fall victim to the dangers of dating apps as those who are younger. Perhaps the laws should raise the age to 18.
For that matter, adults can be open to danger as well with dating apps, but they’re of age to make their own decisions.
What do you think the age of consent should be for using a dating app without parental approval? Do you think it should be 13, or do you think the age should be raised? Add your thoughts to the comments section below.