Match.com will start screening its users against the national sex offender registry following a lawsuit from a California woman who said she was sexually assaulted by a man she met on the popular dating site.
The company has reportedly considered such screenings for years, though they have yet to materialize because of Match’s view that they are historically unreliable, according to the Associated Press, citing Mary Ginsberg, the site’s president.
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Following criticism deriving from the assault suit, however, the company said it was urged by its providers and advisors to officially make a change, according to the report by AP.
IAC (NASDAQ:IACI), which operates Match and several other dating sites, including Chemistry.com and OKCupid, failed to immediately respond to a request for comment regarding whether the process will be implemented at its other sites.
The backlash emerged after a Hollywood executive, who chose to remain anonymous, claimed that she was assaulted on a second date by a man she met on Match.com. The suit urged Match to implement a screening process against sexual predators.
Branding and marketing guru Rob Frankel said he can’t see the bad public relations causing any damage to the site’s image, which is currently the most widely-used dating site.
“I don’t think it’ll be consequential,” he said, noting the only issue is that it raises a concern people before may not have had. “Anyone out there on these services, I think they know what they’re getting into.”
Well established services such as Match and rival eHarmony put users through loads of preparation, making sure new users are aware of the realities and risks of the service. Ginsberg told the AP that the company still believes the background checks are highly flawed, and that they should not provide a false sense of security to members.
“Match is saying ‘look, we’re doing our part by offering this advisory service, but don’t be an idiot, you’re still responsible for your moral behavior,’” Frankel said. “It is a system, and it is very, very unreliable.”
The site, which is expected to implement the new policy in 60 to 90 days, recommends users take several safety precautions, such as meeting in a public space and telling family and friends where the date will take place.