Bumble removes politics filter following tweets encouraging people to use feature to identify Capitol rioters

Chelsea Ritschel
·5 min read
Bumble removes politics filter after tweets about identifying Capitol rioters  (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Bumble removes politics filter after tweets about identifying Capitol rioters (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Dating app Bumble has temporarily removed its politics filter “to prevent misuse” seemingly in response to viral tweets encouraging users to change their political view to conservative in an attempt to match with and identify Capitol rioters.

On 7 January, a day after thousands of pro-Trump supporters participated in a deadly riot at the Capitol building, dating app users living in Washington, DC began reporting seeing profiles belonging individuals who were in the area to attend the Stop the Steal rally.

“This is funny but actually serious. There are DOZENS of men on DC dating apps right now who were clearly here for the insurrection attempt yesterday,” Alia Awadallah tweeted. “Some say it directly, others are obvious from MAGA clothing, location tags, etc. Is that info useful at all for law enforcement?”

In a follow-up tweet, Awadallah added that she had contacted the FBI and police about the profiles, before encouraging other users to do the same.

In a response to the tweet, one woman, Allison Norris, claimed that a friend had changed her preference to conservative on Bumble for the same reason.

“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,” she wrote in a tweet that has since been liked more than 21,000 times.

The tweet spurred hundreds of replies on social media from people praising the tactic as “brilliant”, as well as from other dating app users who planned to try the tactic.

“Not all heroes wear capes,” one person replied, while another said: “Best thing I’ve read all day.”

Following the insurrection, Bumble previously said that it had begun taking action against profiles promoting involvement in the riots.

“Bumble prohibits content that encourages any illegal activity. We have taken action on accounts that have violated this policy and we are monitoring activity and will remove any users that have been confirmed as participants in the attack of the US Capitol,” the dating app said on 12 January in response to a concern shared on Twitter about a rioter bragging about the engagement on his Bumble profile in an interview with Bloomberg.

In a separate reply, the app assured a user who shared a screenshot of a Bumble bio that said they were in DC “for America” that it prohibits content “that encourages any illegal activity including terrorism”.

“Don't worry; we've always prohibited content that encourages any illegal activity including terrorism. We've taken action on any profiles that violate this policy and will continue to remove anyone who's been confirmed as a participant in the attack of the US Capitol,” the company said.

However, on Thursday, users began noticing that the dating app had removed its political filter, prompting accusations against Bumble that it had done so to “protect insurrectionists”.

“Not @Bumble removing its politics filter. Come on…” one person tweeted along with a screenshot of the Bumble filters, with one person suggesting that Bumble had taken the step following Norris’ viral tweet.

In response to the thread, Bumble’s official support Twitter account confirmed that the platform had removed the filter.

“We've temporarily removed our politics filter to prevent misuse,” the company said. “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.”

In another tweet, the company confirmed that the removal of the political filter was only in the US, explaining: “This is temporary. We removed the politics filter in the US to prevent misuse. Don't worry; it will be reinstated in the future.”

In a statement to The Independent, a spokesperson for the Washington branch of the FBI said it had received “more than 100,000 digital media tips,” but could not comment on the source of the tips.

The Independent has contacted Bumble for comment.

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