The Indian edition of dating app Tinder has introduced a new feature that gives women additional scrutiny and security before they allow men to start messaging them.
The “My Move” feature, which Tinder hopes to roll out globally, allows women to choose in their settings that only they can start a conversation with a male match after both have approved each other using the swiping function.
Normally, the app gives parties to a successful match – where both have swiped yes on the other’s photograph – the right to text each other immediately.
Rival dating app Bumble already allows only the female party to a heterosexual match to start conversations.
Tinder said it has been testing the function in India for several months and plans to spread it worldwide if the full rollout proves successful.
Taru Kapoor, general manager for Tinder owner Match Group in India, said the function had been pioneered in India because of Tinder’s need to attract more women to the app by making them feel more comfortable and secure.
“We are a platform based on mutual respect, consent, and choice,” she said.
“[Users] can shape their own destiny, connect with people they feel comfortable with and at all points of time feel in control. Our users have the autonomy, especially women have the autonomy, on how to be engaged, to be empowered, to control their experience,” Kapoor said.
“I know the kind of creeps out there on Tinder and other dating apps,” said one of a dozen male users the Reuters news agency talked to on Tuesday.
“One extra layer of security doesn’t do much harm to men apart from slimming their chances of striking up a conversation,” he said.
Several female users remained sceptical about the usefulness of the feature and said the change in settings would not do much to alter their experience.
“Even after carefully picking someone, if they turn out to be nothing like you imagined, there is always an unmatch option,” said a 25-year-old woman in Bengaluru, who met her boyfriend through Tinder.
Thousands of reports of sexual violence and rape in India each year have raised concerns over the safety of women in many parts of the country.
In 2016, police in India received nearly 39,000 reports of rape, compared with almost 35,000 in 2015, according to the National Crime Records Bureau data.
Activists say the actual figure is likely to be much higher as many such crimes go unreported because of the stigma of sexual violence.
An emerging class of young, affluent Indians has made the country Tinder’s largest market in Asia.
The company also says it is the “chattiest” globally, with users using the in-app messaging feature more than any other country.
The app, which averages 3.8 million users globally, had the highest number of monthly active users on Android phones in India last month in the Lifestyle category, according to analytics firm App Annie.
The app is also the third-highest earner by revenue across all categories when Google Play and iOS revenues are combined.