In September, the state of Texas passed a law that criminalises the unsolicited sending of sexual photos via text, DM, AirDrop, email, social media, and dating apps — in large part due to the efforts of Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, who worked on the bill with Texas lawmakers for over a year. And now Bumble is taking its stance against digital sexual harassment to the next level with a new Private Detector tool, which uses artificial intelligence to detect nude imagery sent on the app and automatically blur it.
There are over 72 million users on Bumble, and less than 1% receive nude photos (of which 40% are sent by women and 60% are sent by men). But now, any photos of genitalia and porn will be hidden, and recipients will be alerted to the inappropriate status of the photo, at which point they can choose to block it, view it, or report the sender — the latter of which will result in the sender being banned from the app.
Bumble is unique in that it allows users to send each other photos at all — a feature that apps like Tinder and Hinge don't provide. And one might wonder why the app doesn't just ban photo-sharing of any kind to simply avoid the possibility of nude photos being sent without consent. But while this option would be easier, this new tool represents the commitment Bumble feels to protect its users against digital sexual harassment — and sets a precedent for other companies that provide dating services to bake more protective tools into their product design.
As Wolfe Herd told Refinery29 in August: "We spend all our time in this digital world and it's basically a society with no rules. We’re calling our peers — social networks, messaging apps, and Internet companies of all kinds — to raise their standards, and use their terms and conditions to stand firmly against digital indecent exposure. I want us to serve as proof: You can still drive massive profit and be a good business model while pushing the needle on safety and privacy for users. I want to see other tech companies and platforms take action based on what’s right rather than what their bottom line dictates."