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

Image source, Getty Images

Dating apps Grindr and Tinder are to be asked to explain to the government how they protect children, after an investigation claimed minors 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.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright described it as "truly shocking".

Grindr and Tinder both 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.

Mr Wright said the investigation produced "yet more evidence that online tech firms must do more to protect children".

He said he plans to 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.

Legislation coming into effect from April, which requires porn sites to use age verification technology, may now be extended to dating apps, he said.

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'

A spokeswoman for Tinder said the platform used automated and manual tools and "spend millions of dollars annually" to prevent and remove underage users and other inappropriate behaviour and they "don't want minors on Tinder".

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."

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.

More on this story