The Meet Group, Match Group and Spark Networks in Joint Safety Discussion

The Meet Group, Match Group, Spark Networks and the Online Dating Association (ODA) have participated in a panel discussion concerning the future of online dating safety. They were joined by speakers from the Family Online Safety Institute and Connect Safely.

The session, titled “Online Safety in the Dating and Social Entertainment Market”, was chaired by Mike Latimore, Managing Director and Senior Research Analyst at Northland Capital Markets.

Casey Burton, Director and Senior Counsel at Match Group, opened the discussion by defining the purpose of his company’s safety operations. He outlined three overarching goals: educating users, detecting bad actors early and responding well to any negative user experiences. A fourth concern was working with governments and regulators to keep standards high.

Spark Networks CEO Jeronimo Folgueira noted that his company used a similar model when thinking about safety, while The Meet Group CEO Geoff Cook added comments on how Skout and other services moderate livestreams.

George Kidd, CEO of the ODA, made the case that safe platforms help the sector as well as users. Protecting users adequately helps to discourage external regulation and makes online dating more attractive to investors.

Larry Magid, CEO of Connect Safely, noted that 100% safety is incredibly difficult to reach. When human beings are involved, he says, “there are going to be risks”, and platforms cannot be designed around the highest risk individuals.

Turning to the bounds of acceptable in-app behaviour, Folgueira said his services have extremely tight policies on content moderation. Spark errs on the side of false positives when removing content, as safety is core to the brand image.

Cook says The Meet Group constantly updates moderation standards in accordance with trends in the industry and in user feedback. Burton added comments on the importance of fraud teams, and seconded the point on lending support on the side of user complainants to guarantee safety.  

Stephen Balkam, CEO and Founder of the Family Online Safety Institute, said he had been impressed by The Meet Group’s approach to user safety.

The participants then discussed how to communicate safety lessons to the user base. Cook says a “new user” screen in MeetMe gives advice on real-world meetings, and streamers see guidelines every time they go live.

Burton said Match Group’s approach was similar, adding that knowing your users was important. OurTime and Match.com have a user pledge relating to financial scams, for example.

This point on demographics was seconded by Folgueira, who said Silver Singles presents different challenges to some of the younger-targeted Spark Networks properties.

He later added that the moderation discussion may be constrained by only having the three largest groups involved as participants, however. The CEO said smaller brands, with fewer resources for security, can often put users in more danger. 

The conversation closes by touching on the role of Apple and Google, relationships with law enforcement and  overall safety spend.

Find the recording here.