Silicon Valley is taking steps to make sure mobile apps don’t accidentally set users up on dates with Nazis.

 

 

In the wake of white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, companies like OkCupid are weeding out users who participate in hate groups. “If any OkCupid members come across people involved in hate groups, please report it immediately,” the company tweeted. One of the most famous cases so far is white nationalist Christopher Cantwell, who the New York Times reported was arrested for illegal use of tear gas during a white supremacist march. Cantwell previously lauded violence and the idea of creating an “ethno-state” during an interview with Vice.

On Aug, 18, OkCupid released a statement about banning Cantwell for life, saying: “OkCupid has zero tolerance for racism...So the privilege of being in the OkCupid community does not extend to Nazis and supremacists.” Cantwell was reportedly kicked off Tinder long before the rally. Since Charlottesville, the dating app Bumble also followed up statement of their own, announcing a partnership with the Anti-Defamation League to combat hate speech.

 

 

Bumble vowed to identify and ban hate symbols and racial slurs on their platform. Some people are concerned this curtails free speech. But OkCupid executive Elie Seidman told the New York Times he doesn’t think banning white supremacists is a “slippery slope” to policing beliefs. Bumble’s Twitter account issued a similar response to critics: “We support freedom of speech, but will never condone hate.”

This isn’t Bumble’s first brush with extremism. Slate reported the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer has encouraged users to harass Bumble’s staff to protest the company’s outspoken stance on empowering women. “At that point, we realized that there’s a larger conversation to be had here about not wanting these people in our app,” Alex Williamson el-Effendi, Bumble’s vice president of brand content, told Slate.

All of this is not to say these tech companies are crusading for social justice. Women and queer people of color are routinely harassed on popular dating apps, especially women of color. A study from Consumers' Research found with 39 percent of Tinder users and 38 percent of OkCupid users said they were harassed through the app. To make matters worse, many dating apps allow users to filter their searches by race and body type, a widely criticized feature. But at least these recent steps to ban white supremacists will help weed out dangerous extremists.