Dating app Bumble has temporarily disabled a feature which allowed users to filter potential matches based on their political leanings, the service has announced. The feature allows users to identify and filter matches with options such as “Apolitical,” “Moderate,” “Liberal,” and “Conservative.” In a statement given to Mashable, Bumble said it had temporarily removed the feature in the US to “prevent misuse and abuse.”
News of the change emerged after Bumble users reported seeing individuals on the app who appeared to have participated in the riots at the Capitol building last week. On January 7th, Twitter user Alia Awadallah reported seeing “dozens” of men on dating apps that appeared to be in Washington, DC on the day of the riots. They suggested taking screenshots of these profiles, and submitting this as evidence to the FBI following its call for information.
I’m on hold with FBI and police. No idea if this will end up being useful but I feel like there’s a good story there anyway, so everyone get on the apps and start screenshotting.
— Alia Awadallah (@aawadall) January 7, 2021
One user reported getting more attention on Bumble after posting pictures of himself at the Capitol. Speaking to Bloomberg, Fellows said he had entered the Capitol building with the mob, and even smoked a joint in the office of a US Senator. Fellows boasted that his profile on Bumble was “blowing up” after he posted pictures from the Capitol.
In a widely shared tweet, Allison Norris reported that Bumble’s political feature filter had been used by “a friend of a friend” to increase her chances of matching with rioters who’d then send her pictures and videos of themselves in the Capitol.
I know a friend of a friend who changed her preference on Bumble to Conservative. She’s matching with MAGA bros and they’re bragging and sending her pics and videos of them in the Capitol. She’s sending them to the FBI.
— Allison #FreeThemALL Norris (@allisonnorris) January 8, 2021
As of January 14th, users were reporting that the politics filter had disappeared as an option from the app. Bumble subsequently confirmed that it had temporarily disabled the feature, though it stopped short of saying it was disabled in direct relation to the Capitol riots. It added that it was removing the profiles of confirmed persons participating in the riot.
We’ve temporarily removed our politics filter to prevent misuse. However, please rest assured that we prohibit any content that promotes terrorism or racial hatred, and we’ve already removed any users that have been confirmed as participants in the attack of the US Capitol.
— bumble (@BumbleSupport) January 14, 2021
In a statement given to Mashable Bumble said its service prohibits content that “encourages any illegal activity” and that it would cooperate with law enforcement in relation to the profiles. “On January 6, we immediately ensured that our hate speech scanning and protocols addressed the attack on the U.S. Capitol and began removing any insurrection-related content from our platform,” a spokesperson said, “If we see anything that would suggest someone has or is in the process of committing a potentially criminal act we will take appropriate steps with law enforcement.”
Following its call for evidence, the FBI reported earlier this week that it has received over 100,000 pieces of digital evidence after the attack on the US Capitol.