Online harassment is the thorn in the side of social media. Twitter is decried as a "haven for harassment," and even Instagram is scrambling to halt abuse on its platform. These big tech companies could definitely learn a thing or two about handling harassment from a new plus-size dating app.
WooPlus, billed as "the most comfortable dating app for plus-size singles and their admirers," recently created a system that banishes trolls from their platform.
The app works much like Tinder: Users can "like" or "pass" potential matches in their area.
Revelist editor-in-chief April Walloga felt slightly underwhelmed when she reviewed an earlier version of the app in January.
"Profile pic quality was reminiscent of the early days of OKCupid and that app your single aunt Karen still uses, Match.com," she wrote. "Think: bad bathroom lighting, mirror selfies, and celebrity imposter photos (hello, Harrison Ford)."
But she also wrote that with a few updates, WooPlus could be a promising plus-size competitor. And apparently, WooPlus listened.
A few months ago, the company polled its users about changes they'd like to see — and made some pretty shocking discoveries.
"I've gotten some crap from blocks who I have politely told I'm not interested in," one user said. "For some reason, they think fat = no standards."
Of course, online harassment isn't reserved exclusively for plus-size women — or women in general. The Pew Research Center found that 65% of millennials have been called offensive names online. But the same study found women are frequently subjected to more severe forms of abuse, like stalking, sexual harassment, and long periods of torment.
WooPlus co-founder Michelle Li decided to take a stand against the harassment on the app.
"Our mission at WooPlus is to create many more female-friendly features, so bigger women have user-friendly and practical dating tools, and are treated with respect," she said in a statement.
Li and WooPlus' developers created a system that permanently bans abusive users. Women can now review men they've talked to on the app and rate them between zero and five on their profiles. The app then automatically bans poorly-rated users, and promotes those with high ratings.
"On the one hand, this review system will help us eliminate rude daters," Li told Revelist. "On the other hand, we will customize recommendations for potential matches based on a user's previous ratings, comments and reviews using artificial intelligence. Thus, with this review system, we can help big girls find their ideal mates in a female-empowering dating environment."