Mar 24 2021
Note from the Human Rights Campaign on Fostering Inclusion and Ending Online Hate
Written by Human Rights Campaign

About this Series

This is the third in a series of posts from our partners on the Match Group Advisory Council. These posts focus on safety topics that are important to our partners, our company, and our users. We have asked Match Group Advisory Council Members to contribute their expert insights to our Trust and Safety Center to increase awareness among our members and amplify our collaborative work to improve safety both on our platforms and in our greater community.

As anyone who has dared to search for love online knows, taking a swim in the dating pool is often fun. But, unfortunately, it can also be toxic. People looking for potential partners encounter racism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia and more. Transgender and non-binary people in particular often report experiencing stigma, denigration or outright abuse while dating online.

This does not have to be the case. Match Group and their users can co-create a community devoid of the worst parts of dating by adhering to existing community standards on safety, respect and inclusion and combating hateful rhetoric that can often lead to violence. Imagine it, a dating pool where everyone engages in identifying and removing the most toxic elements floating about, thereby creating a safe space for anyone to find love, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.

We all share the responsibility in stamping out hate, especially anti-trans stigma, which is fueling a rising epidemic of violence. In 2020, the Human Rights Campaign recorded at least 44 trans and gender non-conforming people who were violently killed in the United States — a dramatic increase over previous years. To put a finer point on this — since 2013, we have lost more than 210 of our trans and gender non-conforming friends and family members to hateful violence in this country. This violence is fueled by stigma — stigma which is all too often perpetuated on the internet and social applications  where users believe they face no consequences or responsibility.

If we are going to reverse this alarming trend, we must be holistic in our solutions. We must demand changes in law and policy, including passage of inclusive civil rights legislation such as the Equality Act (which recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives and awaits a vote in the Senate), which ensures that people will be protected from discrimination in many areas of life including public spaces, transportation hubs, housing, and credit. But we must also hold each other accountable in our daily lives, whether in our workplace or while searching on dating platforms. To this end, the entire Match Group community can do itself and the community a huge service simply by identifying and removing users who seek to dehumanize and cause harm to people simply because of who they are. That is why we and Match Group strongly encourage you to report any anti-trans language you encounter on your dating apps, so that Match Group can take appropriate action.

Culture change will help save trans lives when a critical mass of people decide to champion the values of inclusion in every aspect of their lives. Each one of us has a responsibility to carry this work forward. The Human Rights Campaign’s guide on how to be a better trans ally is a good resource for anyone who needs guidance along this journey.

“History isn’t something you look back at and say it was inevitable, it happens because people make decisions that are sometimes very impulsive and of the moment, but those moments are cumulative realities.” -Marsha P. Johnson

Similarly, the worst parts of the current state of online dating do not represent inevitable outcomes; they are an accumulation of our decisions — decisions that can be life-saving. It is time to create a respectful, inclusive and safe future, and we can help in this effort by holding each other accountable for the hate we see while using apps. Let’s raise the standard on dating, creating a dating pool we would all actually want to swim in. And in doing so, we may end up changing the world for ourselves and for people we may never meet. As love can, and does every day.

How Match Group is Helping

  • Match Group apps all have a zero-tolerance policy against hate speech, including transphobia. In addition to using our own mix of automated and human review to identify prohibited speech, we encourage our members to use our in-app features to report similar language they find so that we can take action.
  • We continuously evaluate our policies, products, and procedures to help ensure that our transgender members are welcomed into inclusive online spaces.
  • We take special care when members of the trans community are reported to ensure that they are not being reported simply based on being trans.  And if someone is consistently reporting our users simply based on their being trans, we will ban that user.