Interview: Spectrum CEO Justin Davis on Online Dating Safety

Spectrum is a third-party company that helps online dating brands recognise and eliminate toxic behaviour from their platforms.

It provides enterprise-level tools to manage existing and emerging threats to trust and safety, including underage users, harassment, and sexual assaults.

CEO Justin Davis spoke to GDI about the different threats online dating users face and the company’s upcoming sponsorship of the GDI Los Angeles Dating Conference.

Read the full interview below:

Can you talk a bit about the range of threats that dating apps face when it comes to keeping users safe online?

JD: “Each dating app develops a unique community of individuals with varying demographics, languages, communication patterns, and emotional connections to the brand itself. So, each platform struggles with both a common and unique set of threats. Spam & fraud happen on most, while hate speech, sexual harassment, solicitation, and underage user threats depend on the makeup of the community itself. Each of these issues impact the user experience, retention & LTV, and user safety.”

How has this changed over time? Are there some concerns that are more recent?

JD: “While the types of threats haven’t necessarily changed, the severity & frequency of threats have increased. Recent market conditions have also been a catalyst for putting trust & safety in the spotlight. An increased scrutiny of liability (Section 230), hyper-awareness of privacy (GDPR, data breaches, human moderation), new policies (SESTA-FOSTA), and a shift in society’s tolerance of “acceptable” online behaviors create a unique opportunity for dating apps to differentiate through safe user experiences.”

What kinds of solutions do Spectrum offer to these challenges?

JD: “Spectrum provides a private cloud platform that helps dating apps recognize & respond to specific toxic behaviors across any language. User and data privacy are top of mind for dating apps given the personal nature of the conversations that they facilitate. We deliver data science, product, and trust & safety teams an accurate and real-time platform for toxic behavior recognition that can be deployed within their walls and existing infrastructure.”

What was the motivation for starting a company in this area?

JD: “The Internet is one of the most important technologies the world has ever seen. It’s the ultimate global conduit that lets us create, share, connect and consume information in ways that we are only beginning to explore. But we’re not doing enough to protect people and mitigate the risk posed by bad actors which inevitably appear in every community, not just on dating apps. I can’t think of anything more urgent & personal to build: a product that helps our customers’ protect people & their privacy; and a coalition of partners & executives that are looking to defend their communities.”

What can industry executives expect from your session at GDI Los Angeles?

JD: “Attendees can expect to learn how some of the world’s largest dating apps & social platforms are leveraging AI in order to protect their users and brand from toxic behaviors like sexual harassment, discrimination, solicitation, underage users, and more.”

Visit the Spectrum website here.

Dominic Whitlock

Dominic is the Editor for Global Dating Insights. Originally from Devon, England he achieved a BA in English Language & Linguistics from The University of Reading. He enjoys a variety of sports and has a further passion for film and music.

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