Grindr is partnering with Spectrum Labs, leveraging the startup’s AI-powered system to help filter posts on the LGBTQ dating service.
Between the lines: For years, Grindr chose not to implement an AI system for content moderation, not because it didn’t want to augment its keyword-based filtering system, but because it feared that the models are not sensitive enough to ensure user safety without introducing other types of bias.
Content moderation via machine learning is tricky, controversial and not always good,” Grindr spokesperson Patrick Lenihan told Axios.
- With Spectrum, which provides content moderation to other dating services as well as gaming and other internet companies, Lenihan said Grindr finally found an option he was comfortable with. . “They had what we really needed.”
How it works: Rather than simply controlling the content of certain words or phrases, Spectrum’s contextual AI service works to solve specific problems, such as identifying the sale of drugs and sex, as well as the detection of underage users.
- Spectrum has a set of algorithms that it has tweaked over the years, but also works with each customer to make the system work for their environment. As a result, it can take weeks or months to get his tools up and running, but Spectrum CEO Justin Davis says it’s an investment that pays dividends over time.
Why is this important: While Grindr had understandable reasons to wait to find a suitable AI system, not using one meant the company was heavily reliant on user reports. In addition to being reactive rather than proactive, the approach is also vulnerable to abuse.
- Spectrum’s Davis says that only 18% of users across all services report problematic dating, and a huge percentage of those are actually fake reports, like people who didn’t like their date.
- And the other non-AI method used by Grindr and others – keyword monitoring – has become less effective over time as people have become more sophisticated in avoiding such systems.
The big picture: Dating apps have become the primary method of matchmaking, but the growing popularity has also made them a hotbed of harassment, illegal activity, and scams.