Online dating app Bumble has asked its users to become Nazi hunters.
In an announcement, Thursday, the company declared that "Hate speech, racism, and bigotry are intolerable realities that we must all come together to take action against." It continued, "While we support freedom of speech, we don't support abusing that freedom to harm, bully, or attack people online."
As a private company, Bumble has the absolute right to do this. Still, it concerns me a little. For a start, Bumble is moving the decision of whether or not to talk to someone away from the user and back to the platform. As Bumble explains,
We want to keep Bumble hate-free, but we can't do it without the support of our users. We're calling on our community to ban hateful speech and activities on our platforms. If you experience these conversations or see hate symbols in a user's profile, please use the "block and report" feature in app so our moderation team can ban the user.
In effect, that means Bumble will ban a Nazi simply because one user didn't like him. That seems unnecessary. After all, someone who is covered in swastikas or the random mix of numbers that Nazis so adore is probably not going to be high in demand anyway. Moreover, because Bumble requires women to send the first message, and most Nazis are men, most Nazis will find themselves imprisoned to the Bumble swipe-left zone.
But there's another issue here. If Nazis are banned simply because someone doesn't like their tattoos, then Nazis will have no chance of finding love.
Nazism does not arise from a position of personal self-worth. On the contrary, if you're a grown man who runs around America with plastic shields saluting an ideology that murdered tens of millions… you've got some issues. Promoting happiness and offering a positive distraction, dating might even offer a remedy to those issues.
Finally, Bumble's rhetoric seems a little too earnest. It explains that the purge isn't going to happen overnight - it will be an ongoing effort, one that will require our community's help. "Together, we can protect our platform from hate."
My concern here is that this is just the start. Bumble has just opened the door to the left's identity politics crowd. And that means that the company will come under increasing pressure to ban people who say things that buck the party line. That might include a comment "I think gender neutral pronouns are idiotic", for example. As I noted yesterday, stating such a thing is now a cardinal sin in much of the western world. In Canada, it's enough to get you banned from public speaking.
Bumble has a right to dispose of its platform as it wishes, but the company should tread carefully here. Nazis are pathetic creatures, yet the road of speech authoritarianism is a slippery and dangerous one.