Women-centered dating app Bumble to ban users who are ‘fat-phobic’

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Dating app Bumble announced on Wednesday it will start banning users who are ‘fat-phobic’ or ‘transphobic’. “Bumble’s mission has always been to build a platform rooted in respect and kindness”, the Austin Texas-based company said.

“Body shaming is not acceptable on or off of the Bumble app. For those who may not know, body shaming means forcing your opinion of a ‘good body’ onto others”, Bumble said.

The new update follows growing concern of abuse on dating apps. A recent survey of 1,003 people in Britain by Bumble found that one in four people in Britain have been body-shamed online on a dating app or social media.

In addition, 54% of the people surveyed said they are less likely to feel good after spending an extended amount of time on the internet. Body shaming makes people feel self-conscious (35%), insecure (33%) and angry (25%), according to the report.

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Bumble, which urges women to “make the first move”, will use an algorithm to flag terms that are considered derogatory such as mocking someone’s physical appearance. This will include language that is fatphobic, racist, or homophobic.

A 2016 survey of dating app for plus-size women by WooPlus, found that 71% of 1,000 women who called themselves “curvy” had also been fat-shamed by men on other dating apps. One user reported being “harassed so many times for both my height and weight. I guess I’ve triggered some size related existential crises,” while another respondent said: “I have also been told that if I were to lose weight that I could pass as a decent looking person.”

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A 2020 Pew research also found that 33% of women on dating apps had been called an offensive name by another user.

Bumble wants to foster “a kinder, more respectful and more equal space on the internet,” said Naomi Walkland, Bumble’s  Director of Marketing in Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Key to this has always been our zero-tolerance policy for racist and hate-driven speech, abusive behavior and harassment.”

According to Bumble, “People who use body shaming language in their profile or through the Bumble app’s chat function will receive a warning for their inappropriate behavior.”  “Repeated incidents or particularly harmful comments will result in being banned from the platform. If body shaming happens to you on Bumble you can report it using tools within the app, which include Block & Report, Unmatch & Report, and Hide & Report”, the company said.

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Fans of the female-focused app say the new policy is another reason why they love Bumble, and want other dating apps to follow suit.

“I’m very interested in seeing how this works, and also EXTREMELY happy to see it launch,” music journalist, Courtney E. Smith tweeted.

“Maybe @Grindr could follow suit. That app is a cesspit of toxicity around the body and race,” said one fan of the change.

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