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Ditch the Digits: Bumble Debuts In-App Calling and Video Chatting

Culture

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As with all of Bumble’s services, women will get to enable the feature first.

Many of us have experienced the nerves and anxiety that accompany sharing your phone number with a match from a dating site. And too many of us have come to regret that decision shortly after. Bumble, the dating app that lets women take the lead, is incorporating a feature that creates a bridge between that first contact and the “number share”: in-app calling and video chatting.

The feature, which will also exist inside Bumble BFF (the app’s friend-finding vertical) and Bumble Bizz (for professional networking), will be a “double opt-in” feature, meaning that your match won’t immediately be able to barrage you with calls and videos once you connect. Instead, upon entering your connected chat, you’ll each have to enable the call and video chat capability. As with many other features on the site, women will have to opt-in first before men can respond in kind.

Given constant reports of harassment from online matches, which can range from simply bothersome to unequivocally dangerous, it’s smart for Bumble to provide this option to its users. Only one other major dating site affords its users this safeguarded communication option: Badoo. That’s no accident; both Badoo and Bumble are operated by Andrey Andreev. Both apps are part of the recently announced Magic Labs community of dating apps, which also includes Chappy (Bumble’s dating app for gay men), and Lumen (their offering for singles over 50). The latter two apps will see the calling and video chat option arrive on their platforms soon.

I appreciate that in deploying this feature, Bumble stayed true to its “women take the lead” roots. It shows a commitment to creating a space where women have a sense of control over their online experience. Even though harassment can (and frequently does) follow, even in professional settings like their own Bumble Bizz, it’s important to put as many safeguards in place as possible to make users feel safe. And it’s not the only feature debuting this summer to curb a scourge of dating and connection sites: the “Private Detector” tool will analyze photos sent through chat, warning the recipient if anything…explicit…awaits them before it’s opened.

With any hope, this pair of updates—and Andreev’s clear dedication to “saving [users] time by getting a deeper understanding of who they’ve matched with before they decide to meet in person or share valuable contact information”, meeting new people online a safer, less stressful experience.

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