Man, finding love sure is hard when you’re a domestic terrorist wanted for treason.
Dating app Bumble says it has reenabled a feature that lets users filter potential matches based on their political affiliations. Bumble temporarily disabled the filter for U.S. users beginning on Thursday “to prevent misuse” in the wake of several viral stories of women using the app to catfish Capitol rioters and share their candid confessions with police. Because apparently dozens of Trump insurgents who stormed Capitol Hill last week thought that violently attempting to overthrow democracy could help them land their next date.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation and the D.C. police have enlisted the public’s help to identify participants in the mob among the slew of video and photo evidence those idiots were all too happy to share online. It’s apparently been working wonders so far. Earlier this week, the FBI reported that it’s received over 100,000 pieces of digital evidence following the attack.
Civilian sleuths scouring the internet to try to ID these domestic terrorists are reportedly finding dating apps to be unexpected treasure troves of incriminating evidence. Tinder, Bumble, Match, and other dating apps have turned into veritable hunting grounds to schmooze rioters into bragging about their participation, information that’s then forwarded to the FBI, according to a Washington Post report. Some women are changing their location setting to the D.C. area to increase their chances of matching with potential attendees. But Bumble’s features make the pursuit even easier: Unlike other popular dating apps, it allows users to filter match results by political affiliation with options such as “Moderate,” “Liberal,” “Conservative,” and “Apolitical.”
On January 7, just one day after the botched coup attempt, Alia Awadallah, the co-chair of Foreign Policy for America’s NextGen Initiative, posted on Twitter about seeing a surge in Trump supporters on dating apps in the D.C. area.
“This is funny but actually serious,” she wrote. “There are DOZENS of men on DC dating apps right now who were clearly here for the insurrection attempt yesterday. Some say it directly, others are obvious from MAGA clothing, location tags, etc. Is that info useful at all for law enforcement?”
In a widely shared reply to Awadallah’s thread, immigration attorney Allison Norris said “a friend of a friend” had specifically changed her political preference for Bumble matches to conservative in hopes of matching with a potential suspect. She would then alert authorities once they bragged about participating in the riot and relay any incriminating footage they sent to federal authorities.
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 Norris (@allisonnorris) January 8, 2021
Users noticed the politics filter had disappeared starting on Thursday. Bumble confirmed on Twitter that it had been temporarily removed, though the company stopped short of saying the decision was tied to the fallout from the Capitol riots. In a statement to Mashable, Bumble said on Jan. 6 it ensured its systems were working to immediately remove “any insurrection-related content” from its platform in response to the attack on Capitol Hill.
“Where our AI technology flags photos, hate symbols or text content that promotes the insurrection or related activities, those are removed, with repeated offences or more extreme content resulting in a user being banned,” the spokesperson continued. “We have also temporarily removed our politics filter in the U.S. to prevent misuse and abuse.”
However, Bumble appears to have just as quickly reversed that decision. Late Friday evening, the company tweeted “Update: It’s back!” without further explanation. Upon review, the filter does seem to be enabled for U.S. users once more.
Bumble did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment. My theory is the company wisely decided that, upon further reflection, banning the filter is basically PR suicide, and it’s better to quietly look the other way than risk seeming like you’re trying to shield domestic terrorists from the consequences of their actions.