Dating site Match.com will now screen users for sex offender status in effort to accommodate a lawsuit brought against the company by a member who was raped on a date by a sexual predator. The woman sought an injunction against Match.com to prevent it from operating until the site instituted a screening system.
Mandy Ginsberg told ABC News that the company had considered screening users against the national sex offender database in the past, but believed that inaccuracies in the data lent the process to false positives and omissions that could leave the company open to liability issues.
Now that the site is under the judicial microscope, Match.com hopes that the screening process will assuage the plaintiff in the case while offering new feelings of security to its customers. In the past, however, Ginsberg says that one of the reasons to avoid mandatory screening of site members was to minimize a false feeling of safety while using the site.
Although many dating sites are beginning to screen its members using the sex offender registry, there is no guarantee that the system will be of any avail. After all, not every sex offender has already been caught, lags between convictions and database updates are a reality of life and some people who have not yet offended may decide at any moment to sexually assault a date found on Match.com or on any other dating Web site.
The highly publicized case of dating site abuse has spurred some legislators to take action to improve awareness on dating sites. A Texas proposal aims to require dating sites operating in the site to clearly state whether or not they screen users with a criminal background check, a measure that seems to go beyond Match.com’s decision to screen for sex offender status. Such measures do not aim to directly compel sites to implement screenings, but apparently hopes to guide potential clients toward sites that take that preventative measure.
KCEN-TV reports that dating site True.com screens for criminal backgrounds and can identify the perpetrators of more than 90% of felonies in the United States. According to a quote made by the operator of that site, True.com is the only dating site that requires criminal background checks for all of its members.
Media reports on the Match.com story do not detail how members misidentified as sex offenders would be compensated. Also, the liability of a dating company where a non-offender rapes a member remains unclear. In short, many questions about the safety and liability of dating sites remain in question, although background screenings seem to be a step in the right direction.