Bumble Launches 3-Year, 6-Figure Initiative Targeting Domestic Violence

by Nona Tepper
October 1, 2020
bumble
Photo: Bumble

An Austin-based dating app just partnered with a local domestic violence hotline to help its users engage in healthy relationships.

On Thursday, Bumble announced a partnership with the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Over the next three years, the app — which allows women to initiate romantic, friendly and professional connections — will donate a “high six-figure commitment” to the NDVH’s “love is respect” initiative, which aims to empower young people to prevent and end abusive relationships. The support builds upon the $100,000 donation Bumble made to the nonprofit in March, amid a COVID-19-inspired rise in domestic violence incidents around the world.

The NDVH, which is also based in Austin, defines domestic violence as physical, sexual, emotional, financial or verbal.

From March to May, the NDVH reported a 9 percent increase in the total number of calls received, with approximately 10 percent of callers mentioning the coronavirus during their conversation. Individuals reported not being able to remove abusers from their home because courts were closed, abusers using the threat of the virus to isolate survivors, an inability to access therapy and more. Abuse has been documented both in person and online.

So far this year, the hotline has tracked a 101 percent increase in digital abuse cases compared to 2019, with more people texting or using social media to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate their partner.

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While digital abuse is not a widespread problem on Bumble, since the app generally helps initiate new connections rather than sustain relationships, the company noted that it has a “zero-tolerance” policy against harassment, which presumably means inappropriate users are barred from the platform. Users can anonymously report inappropriate behavior conducted through the app.

In 2016, the company also unveiled a photo verification feature intended to curb catfishing and, last year, launched a “Private Detector” component that automatically blurs nude images and alerts users if they’ve been sent a lewd picture they didn’t ask for. Bumble worked with state officials last year to pass a law that makes distribution of unsolicited nude photos a misdemeanor in Texas, punishable by a fine of up to $500.

The company has also worked with the Anti-Defamation League since 2017 to use AI to identify and remove hate symbols passed through the app. In addition to the company’s partnership with the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Bumble is currently working with the Southern Poverty Law Center on a report about extremism and domestic violence in America, which will be released later this year.

Cybil Zhang, associate director of strategy and social impact at Bumble, said all these partnerships are done with the aim of promoting safe relationships online and IRL.

“Through this partnership, we hope to demonstrate our continued commitment to creating healthy relationships on our platform and in our communities,” Zhang said in a statement.

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