Hornet is set to become the first major gay social network to introduce profile verification badges.
In contrast to verification systems found on other apps, Hornet won’t employ human moderators to judge whether an account deserves a badge. Instead, a machine learning algorithm will monitor user activity to see who is using the app in a consistent and authentic way.
The algorithm is also not designed to analyse private messages or profile pictures, because some members of the LGBTQ community prefer to hide their identity by not uploading a selfie.
Frequent users are being told to not change the way they behave on the app because their normal day-to-day activity should be enough to earn them a badge.
CEO Christof Wittig admitted to the BBC that there is a possibility catfish accounts could get verified, but he believes this will help educate the algorithm and that it will become more precise over time.
He said: “There will always be that one person who will put this super extra effort in, and there will always be some that fall for it. [But] once you know somebody is a catfish, their pattern is better understood. The machine learning has much more data to really understand how catfish behave.”
Verification badges have become commonplace on many dating apps and social networks, but are yet to be utilised on LGBTQ platforms.
There are several reasons as to they why this could be the case, such as it making it more difficult for curious people to explore their sexuality. Verification also has the potential to be dangerous in countries with anti-LGBTQ laws.
Wittig said Hornet users won’t be able to opt out of getting a badge, but did encourage them to change their profile picture if they want to protect their identity.
Hornet called out Google in August and claimed it was discriminating against the LGBTQ community. The accusation came after the app had been removed from the Play Store several times.
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