Grindr and Tinder 'must not risk children's safety'

The digital secretary has said he will question Grindr and Tinder about how they protect children after an investigation claimed they are put at risk of sexual exploitation.

More than 30 cases of child rape have been investigated by police since 2015 after victims evaded age checks on such apps, the Sunday Times found.

Jeremy Wright described it as “truly shocking”.

Grindr and Tinder said they have measures to prevent minors using them.

A Freedom of Information request by the Sunday Times also showed 60 further instances of child sex offences – including grooming, kidnapping and violent assault – through online dating services.

The youngest victim was eight years old, the paper said.

Following the investigation, Mr Wright said he would write to Tinder and Grindr to ask “what measures they have in place to keep children safe from harm, including verifying their age.”

“If I’m not satisfied with their response, I reserve the right to take further action,” he said.

The minister also said the investigation produced “yet more evidence that online tech firms must do more to protect children”.

Last week Instagram vowed to remove all self-harm images from the social media platform.

The move comes after the father of 14-year-old Molly Russell, who took her own life in 2017, said Instagram had “helped kill” his daughter.

Molly’s family found she had been viewing graphic images of self-harm on the site prior to her death.

‘We don’t want minors on Tinder’

Both Grindr and Tinder said that they have measures in place to prevent minors from accessing their platforms.

A Tinder spokeswoman said they “don’t want minors on Tinder”.

She said they use automated and manual tools and “spend millions of dollars annually” to prevent and remove underage users and other inappropriate behaviour.

In a statement to the Sunday Times, Grindr said: “Any account of sexual abuse or other illegal behaviour is troubling to us as well as a clear violation of our terms of service.

“Our team is constantly working to improve our digital and human screening tools to prevent and remove improper underage use of our app.”

Earlier this week, a man was jailed for two-and-a-half years for sexual activity with a 12-year-old girl who he said he thought was 19.

Carl Hodgson, 28, invited the child, who he made contact with on a dating app, to his flat and sent images of her in a body stocking to a friend via WhatsApp.

Manchester Crown Court was told Hodgson filmed the girl on his phone and also carried out a sex act while she looked on.

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BBC News – Technology

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