Tech in Action: Bumble stops unsolicited lewd photos with image recognition

The dating app launches another tool to create a safer online dating experience.


In its latest effort to make online dating safer and more enjoyable for women, Bumble has enlisted image recognition technology to deter a persistent scourge of dating apps: unsolicited dick pics.

Using AI-powered image recognition, the app’s new “Private Detector” function will automatically detect whether or not a photo that has been sent through Bumble’s chat interface contains nudity. The user being sent the image will be notified that they have been sent something potentially inappropriate and then decide if they do want to view the photo, or instead block it and report the sender.

According to a survey Bumble conducted last year, one in three women have been sent an unsolicited nude image at some point, with 96% of them saying it was an unwelcomed experience.

Bumble already has a policy against posting nude photos on a profile, and users can report images they have been sent that they deem inappropriate, with the user sending them getting banned. The company also describes the number of inappropriate images being sent through its platform as “minimal,” and early data from the test phase of “Private Detector” suggests the vast majority of those that are sent are being done with consent: only 15% of nude images sent to women and 5% sent to men that have been flagged by “Private Detector” have also resulted in the user being reported.

However, Bumble founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd hopes having a tool like “Private Detector” will act as a deterrent for those who persist in sending nude photos without consent. Furthermore, users appreciate knowing they have the feature, which joins a host of other tools and policies the company has developed in order to help women feel more comfortable in the world of online dating. Those include photo verification tools to prevent “catfishes” and video and voice call features within the app so users can connect without giving out phone numbers or email addresses. The company has also enacted policies like bans on guns and weapons in photos, or on hate speech in profiles, and employs a moderation team that numbers thousands of staff globally to handle reports and other user concerns.

Outside of the dating experience, Bumble has also been finding ways to empower women in other realms as part of its broader marketing strategy, such as hosting pop-ups focused on professional development or talks about financial literacy.