Garbo, the user background service used by the Match Group for identity verification, has announced it is to shut down this month. The closure was announced after talks failed because of a difference in vision and values.

What happened?

According to Garbo there were two main problems. First there was the financials. Originally the Match group agreed to pay $1.5 million for Garbo to provide background checks for users of popular dating apps like Tinder, PlentyOfFish, Hinge and OK Cupid. When announcing the closure however, Garbo’s CEO Kathryn Kosmides claimed that the organization had run into problems getting larger companies (like Match) to pay for their services.

The second issue was caused by a reported mismatch in strategy. Tinder had pushed for a scheme that would encourage users to carry out background checks on themselves in return for a verification checkmark for their profile. Garbo argued that there were significant problems with ‘white-listing’ people, or allocating them a ‘good guy / bad guy’ rating.

Garbo suggested that big platforms like Match were using their service as a marketing tool to embellish the image of user security, rather than as a way to properly stamp out inappropriate use of their apps. Garbo’s board of directors voted to terminate the service entirely, stating that they would “rather Garbo shift focus to our other efforts than allow the vision of Garbo to be compromised and relegated to a piece of big corporations’ marketing goals.”.

The latest in a line of scandals

Match’s partnership with Garbo comes after the group received severe criticism about the safety of app users, particularly women, in 2019. Two US Representatives wrote to Match demanding answers and guarantees of improvements after a company spokesperson was quoted in a news story admitting that, ‘There are definitely registered sex offenders on our free products.’

In 2021, Match partnered with the brand-new Garbo service, hoping to improve personal safety protections for their users – and to end criticism of their lack of safeguards. Under the initial agreement, Tinder would pay for two background searches for each registered user, allowing them to check the criminal history of a potential ‘match’. Match did emphasize that although this feature would help to improve personal protections, it was not intended to be an ‘all-in-one fix’.

What now?

Match claims that they are in advanced discussions with an alternative service provider. However, details have not yet been released so it is possible that Tinder, OK Cupid and other Match dating apps may not include background checking features in the interim.

Until Match resolves the situation, we suggest following Panda’s simple 3-step process to protect yourself.

You can read all about it here: Tips to Find Online Love Safely.