At Bumble, safety is our number one priority: Priti Joshi, Bumble
Priti Joshi, VP of Global Strategy & Operations, Bumble Bumble
After its anti body-shaming policy, Bumble has come up with a safety guide for women to combat online harassment
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At Bumble, safety is our number one priority: Priti Joshi, Bumble

After its anti body-shaming policy, Bumble has come up with a safety guide for women to combat online harassment
  • Bumble has been at the forefront of trying to make its platform safe.
  • It has launched an initiative in partnership with Safecity, Red Dot Foundation's flagship public safety platform, to take a stand against racist, harassing, hate-driven speech, and bullying.
  • Priti Joshi, VP of Global Strategy & Operations at Bumble tells us all there is to know about the initiative.

In the past few years, India has warmed up to dating apps. Recent data from Statista.com reveals that dating apps generated revenues to the tune of $323 million in India in 2020 and the numbers are growing, steadily.

More and more Indians are getting comfortable with finding love and companionship online. And the growth of these apps is no longer restricted to metros anymore.

However, with more and more people joining these platforms, the safety of the people using these apps becomes critical.

Online harassment is a reality in a world where we spend so much of our time on our screens. And for dating apps, the task at hand is to make sure that their users are safe and are not harassed.

A recent nationwide survey by dating app Bumble threw up some stark figures. It found that almost 83% of women surveyed in India experience online harassment of some kind, and 1 in 3 women experience it weekly. A further 70% of women believe that cyberbullying increased since lockdown was announced in 2020. Over half (59%) of women surveyed said they feel unsafe and just under half (48%) feel angry.

Keeping this in mind, the platform has been taking up various initiatives. After it recently banned body-shaming on its platform, it has now partnered with Safecity, Red Dot Foundation's flagship public safety platform, to take a stand against racist, harassing, hate-driven speech, and bullying. The platform has created a safety guide for women that comprises crucial information to recognize, prevent and combat rising digital abuse and harassment.

We recently caught up with Priti Joshi, VP of Global Strategy & Operations at Bumble, to understand what the initiative is all about. She told us how the platform is doubling down on its efforts to ensure the safety of women, and how it is communication with its users across the country, to achieve its goal.

Excerpts:

Q) Tell us a bit about the Stand for Safety initiative. What was the thought behind it?
At Bumble, our mission has always been to create a kinder, safer, respectful, and equitable space on the internet. Through the Stand for Safety initiative, Bumble continues to demonstrate its continued commitment to zero-tolerance policy for racist, harassing, hate-driven speech, and bullying of any kind.

We have created a safety guide, in partnership with Safecity, Red Dot Foundation's flagship public safety platform, to empower women in India with crucial information to recognise, prevent and combat rising digital abuse and harassment. The safety guide is aimed at equipping women to understand and recognise online harassment, suggestions on how to tackle difficult situations and resources available to prevent and combat digital abuse.

Q) Apart from this initiative, what kind of internal processes do you have in place that equips you as a platform to combat digital harassment?
At Bumble, safety is our number one priority. Bumble encourages its community to use its block and report feature when any behaviour occurs that goes against the company’s guidelines — even for something as simple as if someone made you feel uncomfortable.

Bumble’s safety product features include:

As a geographic-specific feature for our Bumble community in India, a woman can use only the first initial of her name to create her Bumble Date profile. Whenever she is ready and comfortable to share her full name with connections, she can - but until then, her identity is protected. This helps to ensure that she can’t be found on other platforms by those she doesn’t want to connect with.

Reporting Someone on Bumble: At Bumble your safety is our number one priority. This is why we’ve made it easy for you to block and report anyone who violates our community guidelines during any point of your dating journey within the app

Photo Verification: Bumble utilizes both artificial intelligence (AI) and a team of human moderators to verify that users really are who they say they are. If you see the blue verification badge on someone’s profile you know they’ve gone through Bumble’s photo verification process.

Request Photo Verification: In an effort to continuously keep fake accounts at bay, we recently rolled out a new feature that allows our users to request that their matches photo verify their profile. The addition of the ability to request verification adds an extra layer of confidence to every interaction.

Private Detector: Another Bumble feature that leverages AI, Private Detector is able to capture, blur and alert users that they've been sent an unsolicited nude image. It’s then the user’s choice to either delete, view, or report the image

Unmatch: Not all matches work out, but if someone behaves inappropriately and then unmatches you, you will have the option to report that user’s behavior to Bumble right within that preserved chat screen. Just decided to part ways? No need to report the other person, just simply select “unmatch”

Safety + Wellbeing Centre: A resource hub within the Bumble app built to help our global community have a safe and healthy dating experience. Here, you can stay informed on Bumble’s safety features, find the appropriate tools and resources to help you date confidently. To see more about Bumble’s Safety + Wellbeing Centre, you can also visit safety.bumble.com

Bumble has banned body shaming: Bumble has explicitly banned body shaming from the app. The popular social networking app has updated its terms and conditions to explicitly ban unsolicited and derogatory comments made about someone’s appearance, body shape, size or health. This includes language that can be deemed fat-phobic, ableist, racist, colorist, homophobic or transphobic.

Q) How are you ensuring you take this message to your users? Combating harassment in general means talking to the right audience, educating them. It's a work in progress that needs time and the communication needs to not just be aimed at women, but at men too.
Absolutely, we agree it’s a work in progress, and we are constantly working towards engaging with our community to support and equip them to be safe and empowered to meet new people and make meaningful connections on Bumble.

In addition to all our safety features and additional appropriate tools and resources are available for our community in the Safety + WellBeing Centre, a resource hub within the Bumble app built to help our global community have a safe and healthy dating experience. Bumble’s community in India can also access the safety guide within the app in the Safety + WellBeing Centre.

Additionally, we are working with partners like Safecity, Red Dot Foundation's flagship project that works towards digital awareness, women's safety and equal rights, and through other channels to empower and equip our community with crucial information they need to recognise, prevent and combat rising digital abuse and harassment.

Q) Also, there are instances when men are victims of harassment too. How are you ensuring your initiative is more inclusive in that sense?
Our stance on harassment and abuse applies to all users and is not gender-specific, but we know from our research and community feedback that this is an issue that disproportionately affects women. That said, as a platform that’s rooted in kindness, equality, and inclusivity, we are constantly working towards creating a safer, kinder, and more respectful space for everyone. We will continue to invest and innovate to ensure every single person on the platform feels safe and empowered to meet new people. The safety guide is another step towards achieving this for everyone on the platform.

Q) How has the dating ecosystem evolved in 2021 and how are you making your platform more engaging, to make sure people are able to connect well, despite probably not being able to meet?
As we enter 2021, there is a sense of optimism and hope amongst single Indians as they get more intentional about finding love in 2021. Our COVID Preferences feature provides our community a large selection of choices to showcase exactly how they want to date during this time. Bumble users can select what level of social distancing they’d like to practice while dating (like if they want to date with masks), their preferences for date locations and so on. This helps skip some of the awkward conversations about what an in person date could look like as we return to IRL dating.

Q) What kind of growth are you witnessing on the platform?
Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve seen a surge in virtual dating on Bumble. We saw a 38% increase in Video Calls and Voice Chats on Bumble following lockdown restrictions being put in place in March 2020. People are more inclined to seek meaningful connections after a challenging year, and virtual dating has become more important now than ever - as a large degree of trust must be formed before meeting in person.

Single Indians now go on ‘pre-dates’ where they use video dates to get to know one another before meeting in-person. We observed increased usage and extended video chat times once lockdown began last year with people in India spending roughly 20 mins on average on Video Calls or Voice Chats on Bumble in India. This has led to more virtual communication before the relationship is taken offline.

Q) How important is India as a market for Bumble in the global scheme of things? Going ahead, what will be your areas of focus to grow the platform further in India?
India continues to be an important growth market for Bumble. We are committed to supporting safe, equal, and healthy virtual connections in 2021. In addition to our focus on our community, we are looking forward to taking our mission and value proposition to newer cities and communities, and reach more people in India in 2021. We will continue to invest and innovate on new product features for unique experiences to ensure every single person on the platform feels safe and empowered to meet new people.