Can Dating Apps Be Held Accountable for Abuse?

You may be surprised to learn that people who were sexually assaulted or otherwise victimized by someone they met on a dating website may be able to take legal action for the harm done to them. There is little accountability for assailants who meet their victims on these platforms, but with the help of a law firm like Phillips Law Group, some justice can be served for users who are harmed by someone they met on a dating app. 

Dating Apps and Sexual Abuse

If someone suffers sexual assault at the hands of a person they met on a dating app after the platform didn’t take previous abuse reports seriously, it’s possible that the dating app or website could be held accountable through legal action. 

In one case back 2018, a woman referred to as Emily C. in an investigation by Politico told Bumble that a man she met through its online dating platform had sexually assaulted her, and alleged that they did not respond to her complaint. Just two months later, she saw his profile photo on the app again, suggesting that nothing had been done to stop the person who assaulted her from meeting up with other users of the platform.

The woman later notified a different platform, Tinder, when she found a profile for the same person there, but again, she never received a response to her complaint.

One report from the United Kingdom found that about 1 in 10 victims of serious sexual crimes met their attackers on dating apps. Julie Dean, an associate dean at Brigham Young University’s nursing school, worked with a team of researchers to analyze the forensic records of sexual assault victims in Utah between 2017 and 2020 and told Mother Jones that dating app victims were almost twice as likely to have injuries to their breasts and that they had an 11 percent higher rate of injuries to their genitals. 

She also noted that sixty percent of dating app victims reported they struggled with mental illness. “Violent predators,” Valentine told the outlet, “use these dating apps as hunting grounds for vulnerable victims.”

So what can be done in these situations? 

Taking Action for Abuse

It can admittedly be difficult to hold the dating app where an assailant met a victim liable for the abuse. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act complicates matters as it offers expansive legal immunity to internet platforms.

While these dating apps may not generally have a duty to protect users from predators on their platforms, if the company behind a dating website was made aware previously of a user being convicted of a violent crime and therefore should’ve reasonably been aware of their disposition toward violence, there is a potential chance to bring legal action against them. But only an experienced lawyer can determine whether this is a possible avenue toward justice for you or a loved one. 

You may also have a case against other parties in an abuse or assault situation besides a dating app. However, this is again something you need to discuss with an attorney to know what the best course of action is for you. 

If you were sexually abused by someone you met on a dating app, you may have legal options. Please contact our firm today to learn more. 

Need confidential support after a sexual assault? Call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673.