Since 2018, women-first dating app Bumble has helped pass legislation in both the US and UK to combat cyberflashing, the act of sending sexually explicit material online without consent. According to a previous research carried out by the app, 48 per cent of women aged 18 to 24—out of the 1,793 respondents based in England or Wales—had received an explicit, non-consensual photo in 2019 alone. 59 per cent of them admitted to losing their trust in other users afterward, while one in four felt violated in the process.
In the same year, Bumble harnessed machine learning to better shield its growing community from unwanted nudes, launching an AI tool dubbed ‘Private Detector’ within the app. The feature essentially screens images sent from matches to determine if they depict lewd content or not.
While it was designed with the intention of catching unsolicited nudes, it also helps flag shirtless selfies and images of firearms—both of which aren’t allowed on the platform. I mean, you really have to reevaluate your presence on dating apps if you think such pictures would pull romantic prospects in the first place.
If the AI detects a positive match, the app blurs the image and you’ll be notified of the same. It’s then up to you to decide whether you want to view, block, or report the individual who sent the picture.
Fast forward to October 2022, in a recent press release, the app—which is also reportedly launching a speed dating feature that lets users chat before matching or seeing pictures—announced that it is open-sourcing Private Detector on Github, making the framework publicly available for commercial use, distribution, and modification.
“It’s our hope that the feature will be adopted by the wider tech community as we work in tandem to make the internet a safer place,” the company wrote.
When Bumble first introduced the AI, it claimed that the tool had 98 per cent accuracy. On these terms, it’s worth noting that the technology harbours the potential to help smaller companies—who probably don’t have the time or assets to develop similar tools—integrate the same into their offerings thereby shielding users from cyberflashing.
“There’s a need to address this issue beyond Bumble’s product ecosystem and engage in a larger conversation about how to address the issue of unsolicited lewd photos to make the internet a safer and kinder place for everyone,” Bumble concluded.