An important step in acknowledging the risks LGBTQ+ people face when traveling
The popular dating app Tinder has announced a brilliant new feature: when an LGBTQ+ user is in a sexually repressive or intolerant country, they’ll receive an automated alert warning them of possible danger.
Available for both Apple iOS and Google’s Android platform, the Traveler Alert will activate for anyone who self-identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
This feature shows Tinder has recognized the need to be much more active in protecting its users.
It also can be seen as a rallying call for customers to demand other companies to show this level of consideration, and even sex tech should join in to ensure the safety of everyone at risk of arrest, physical attack, and social and cultural ostracization.
The alert itself is very clear in its message that LGBTQ+ Tinder users should exercise caution, and even suggests important safety precautions for its users:
Based on your geographical location, it appears you’re in a place where the LGBTQ community may be penalized. We want you to have fun, but your safety is our #1 priority. Please proceed with caution and take extra care when making new matches and meeting with people you do not know.
After the alert is triggered, the app then offers two choices: the first being a way for users to obscure themselves in the app, making them invisible to other users.
The second option is that, should they choose to remain visible, users can make their gender identity or sexual orientation invisible in their profile until they exit the potentially dangerous area.
Making this system even better
Not to dismiss or diminish Tinder’s new feature, but there’s still a lot that could be added to its app, as well as to similar dating apps from other companies.
To start, the alert shouldn’t only be triggered by an LGBTQ+ identity. Not that members of these communities shouldn’t be protected, but there are other sexual preferences and identities that should be cautioned as well. For example, BDSM, polyamory, and sex tech users should also be on the warning list.
It would also be much more useful if the warning contained a more detailed explanation of the actual risks involved in being in an intolerant country. Is the warning based on an area’s actual laws, and if so, what legal penalties might be involved? Is the alert triggered by a country that is religiously or culturally intolerant, and if so, what can users do to avoid exposure?
This is especially needed in some countries, where being gay, lesbian, or queer might be frowned on but rarely results in imprisonment, while individuals who identify as trans are routinely persecuted or harassed.
Since we’re putting together our wishlist, it would also be ideal for the warning to be specific about not just a country/region but also specifically which sub-regions may be more severe, such as certain towns or neighborhoods within an urban area.
Going even further, safe areas could be suggested, even using information and suggestions offered by other users, to keep the alerts updated.
Finally, it would be important to have the alert not only tied to a country or a region but also states or municipalities within them: appropriate warnings could appear in a city, town, or state that is risky, even if it is within an area that might otherwise not be.
For sex tech as well
This is all pretty obvious for things like dating apps, but the sex tech and adult entertainment industries should get involved as well with their own version of the alert, letting customers know what could happen should they be exposed.
After all, in certain states in the U.S., like Texas and Alabama, it’s still or recently was illegal to sell or own sex toys. This kind of thing should really be pointed out to residents of states and cities like this by sex tech manufacturers when they place an order.
It might have a long way to go to be thoroughly responsive and thoughtful but Tinder’s alert system has called attention to this important issue, and other companies need to join it in caring for the safety of their clients and customers.
Image sources: Global Panorama, Elvert Barnes, Carl Campbell, Eva Rinaldi