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Within months, Match’s lawyers told the judge that “a screening process has been initiated,” records show.
After the settlement, the company’s attorneys declared the site was “checking subscribers against state and national sex offender registries.” The next year, Match made similar assurances to then–California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
So how did Plenty of Fish allow such a man to use its service?
Most victims, almost all women, met their male attackers through Tinder, Ok Cupid, Plenty of Fish, or Match. In 10% of the incidents, dating platforms matched their users with someone who had been accused or convicted of sexual assault at least once, the analysis found.
Only a fraction of these cases involved a registered sex offender.
Other response protocols aren’t standardized across Match Group apps.
It pledged to go further and respond to users’ rape complaints with an additional safety tool: “a rapid abuse reporting system.”Today, Match Group checks the information of its paid subscribers on Match against state sex offender lists.
Even Pennsylvania registered sex offender Seth Mull, whose 17-year history of sex crimes convictions began as a teen, used Match Group’s dating sites; in 2017, Plenty of Fish didn’t flag his eight-year registry status before matching him with a woman who later accused him of rape.
Mull is now serving life in prison for her rape and two more rapes, among other sex crimes.
It puts responsibility for policing its users on users themselves.
Customers who sign its service agreement promise they haven’t committed “a felony or indictable offense (or crime of similar severity), a sex crime, or any crime involving violence,” and aren’t “required to register as a sex offender with any state, federal or local sex offender registry.” Plenty of Fish doesn’t attempt to verify whether its users tell the truth, according to the company. They chatted online and eventually arranged a date. But months after their Plenty of Fish match, Deveau became the second woman to report to police that Papamechail raped her after they had met through a dating app.
But over this same period, as Match evolved into the publicly traded Match Group and bought its competitors, the company hasn’t extended this practice across its platforms — including Plenty of Fish, its second most popular dating app.