Swipe Right For Danger

Lexi Tucker
Posted on November 8, 2016

That's totally not creepy...right? (Photo via Flickr user Denis Bocquet)
That's totally not creepy...right? (Photo via Flickr user Denis Bocquet)
It’s interesting to me how apps have completely changed the way we go about our daily lives. By that, I mean they’ve made us lazier — and exposed us to more danger.

I’m sure many of you have heard of Tinder; it’s a super popular app among Millennials that’s essentially a dating site like match.com, only extremely simplified to appeal to the on-demand obsessed crowd.

The app determines your location using GPS, then uses your Facebook info to create a profile. This includes your first name, age, photos of your choice, and any pages you “like” on Facebook. Tinder then finds you potential matches near your location (you can narrow it down by age and distance, too) and if you’re interested in them, you swipe right to “like’” them. If they aren’t your type, you can swipe left to skip them. If they’ve also “liked” you, then it’s a match and you can start messaging.

I don’t think I need to tell you the implications of signing up for an app like this. While dating in general can be scary (for many different reasons), it’s usually less so when you have gotten to know the person…well, in person. According to a recent article from The Sun, 50 sex crimes involving dating apps were reported to the Met Police in London in a record year for offenses. This is an increase of 2,000% in four years — and I guarantee you the numbers are actually higher considering some people don’t come forward due to embarrassment or fear of being ridiculed. Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Let’s compare this with two other infamous on-demand apps: Uber and Lyft. They pair the user with a random driver who then transports a person to their desired destination. The only information you receive about this driver is a photo (which may or may not even be them), what kind of vehicle they are driving, and their license plate. The nickname “digital hitchhiking” is certainly fitting, no?

The incredibly scary thing about these apps, however, is there’s no real accurate count of how many people have been sexually assaulted by their drivers. This article from Slate talks about an incident that occurred in March when the news site BuzzFeed published screenshots, provided by a former customer service representative for Uber, that showed a search for the words sexual assault pulling up 6,160 tickets in the company’s database and a search for the word rape returning 5,827 tickets.

In response to this, Uber conducted its own investigation and concluded only five of the tickets containing the word rape and fewer than 170 of the tickets turned up by the words sexual assault were, in its view, actual incidents related to Uber trips. The company’s excuses ranged from: “Riders routinely misspell ‘rate’ (as in the fare) as ‘rape’, or use the word ‘rape’ in another context. For example, ‘you raped my wallet’ … The results also showed tickets from passengers who got into cars not on the Uber platform, or who were discussing unsubstantiated media reports of sexual assaults.”

As the author of the Slate article says, “The real count of Uber rides that led to sexual assault is probably higher than 170 and lower than 6,160 — but how much higher or lower, consumers have no way of knowing.” And this is only sexual assault we are talking about…there have been kidnappings, drunk drivers, and killings as well.

Regardless of whose count is the accurate one, any number of these incidents is too many. Something I’m interested to hear from readers is why they think people, even though they know the risk of using a TNC service, still opt to use it? Is convenience really worth the possibility of sexual assault — or even death?

Related Topics: apps, criminal incidents, driver behavior, Lexi Tucker, Lyft, mobile applications, on-demand service, passenger safety, Safety, safety education, Sexual Assault, smartphones, Think Fast Blog, TNCs, Uber

Lexi Tucker Associate Editor
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