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It puts responsibility for policing its users on users themselves.Customers who sign its service agreement promise they haven’t committed “a felony or indictable offense (or crime of similar severity), a sex crime, or any crime involving violence,” and aren’t “required to register as a sex offender with any state, federal or local sex offender registry.” Plenty of Fish doesn’t attempt to verify whether its users tell the truth, according to the company. They chatted online and eventually arranged a date. But months after their Plenty of Fish match, Deveau became the second woman to report to police that Papamechail raped her after they had met through a dating app.But it doesn’t take that step on Tinder, Ok Cupid or Plenty of Fish — or any of its free platforms.A Match Group spokesperson told CJI the company cannot implement a uniform screening protocol because it doesn’t collect enough information from its free users — and some paid subscribers — even when they pay for premium features.Within months, Match’s lawyers told the judge that “a screening process has been initiated,” records show.
A spokesperson said, “There are definitely registered sex offenders on our free products.” Susan Deveau saw Mark Papamechail’s online dating profile on Plenty of Fish in late 2016.But over this same period, as Match evolved into the publicly traded Match Group and bought its competitors, the company hasn’t extended this practice across its platforms — including Plenty of Fish, its second most popular dating app.The lack of a uniform policy allows convicted and accused perpetrators to access Match Group apps and leaves users vulnerable to sexual assault, a 16-month investigation by Columbia Journalism Investigations found.Asked about the CJI data, Match Group’s spokesperson said the 157 cases “need to be put in perspective with the tens of millions of people that have used our dating products.”The company declined multiple requests to interview executives and other key employees familiar with its protocols for addressing online dating sexual assault.