Dating app Bumble bans body-shaming in move to reduce online bullying, harassment

The dating app is cracking down on what it calls "harassing and hate-driven speech".
The dating app is cracking down on what it calls "harassing and hate-driven speech". Photo credit: Getty.

If you're online dating you're probably active on Bumble, a dating app which differentiates itself from the rest by requiring women to make the first move once two people have been matched.

The 'women first' dating and social networking app announced on Friday it's making big moves to reduce online bullying and harassment by banning body-shaming. 

One of New Zealand's most popular dating apps alongside Tinder and Hinge, Bumble has updated its terms and conditions to explicitly ban unsolicited and derogatory comments made about someone's appearance, body shape, size or health. 

According to a statement, this includes language that can be deemed fat-phobic, ableist, racist, colourist, homophobic or transphobic.

"We have always been clear on our mission to create a kinder, more respectful, and equitable space on the internet, and our zero-tolerance policy for racist, harassing and hate-driven speech is an important part of that," said Lucille McCart, Bumble's associate director of PR and communications. 

"We believe in being explicit when it comes to the kind of behaviour that is not welcome on our platforms and we've made it clear that body-shaming is not acceptable on Bumble."

The change comes following a 2021 survey by the business that revealed 64 percent of people say they're more likely to receive unsolicited comments about their appearance online rather than in person. 

In addition, 82 percent of respondents said they felt they're more likely to feel physically judged while dating compared than other areas of life.

To enforce the ban, the app uses automated safeguards to detect comments and images that go against its guidelines and terms and conditions, which can then be escalated to a human moderator to review. 

People who use body-shaming language in their profile or through the app's chat function will also receive a warning for their inappropriate behaviour and "repeated incidents or particularly harmful comments" will result in being banned from the platform.

"Our moderation team will review each report and take the appropriate action," McCart said. "We always want to lead with education and give our community a chance to learn and improve. However, we will not hesitate to permanently remove someone who consistently goes against our guidelines."

In 2016, the dating app banned shirtless bathroom mirror selfies along with swimsuit and bra photos taken indoors, and in 2017, banned all forms of hate speech, hate symbols and harassment.