Bumble Given Dignity Defense Award for Combatting Cyberflashing

NCOSE Press Statement logo

WASHINGTON, DC (June 16, 2022) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) presents the Dignity Defense Award to Bumble, a popular woman-founded dating app devoted to combatting cyberflashing, which involves sending unsolicited sexual images to strangers.

“Bumble’s fight against cyberflashing has involved adding industry standard-setting safety features to their app, as well as advocating for legislation and pubic policies to make cyberflashing illegal throughout the United States. We are pleased to present Bumble with our Dignity Defense Award for leading solutions to stem this form of sexual harassment that impacts so many people – most of them women,” said Lina Nealon, director of corporate and strategic initiatives for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

Cyberflashing has become an all too prevalent form of sexual harassment. A 2017 nationally representative U.S. survey found that 53% of women ages 18-29 reported having received an unsolicited sexually explicit image. A 2018 U.K. survey found that 40% of women ages 18-34 reported that someone who was not their romantic partner had sent them an unsolicited sexual photo of themselves, and 26% of men ages 18-34 reported experiencing this.

Bumble’s work on cyberflashing began in 2018, when a study it commissioned found that one in three women using the Bumble dating app reported having received unsolicited sexual images. Of these women, 96% were unhappy to have been sent these images. Looking into what could be done about the issue, the Bumble team realized that there were no laws in the U.S. to ban cyberflashing, even though laws existed to ban similar behavior offline. As Bumble wrote in a public statement, “While it’s a crime to pull your pants down in the streets, there was nothing stopping anyone from exposing themselves in your DMs, texts, or other channels.”

Bumble incorporated protections from cyberflashing into the very design of their app. In 2019, the company added a new feature which detects and automatically blurs nude images. The recipient is then informed that they’ve received something potentially inappropriate and can decide whether to view or block the image.

Bumble has also been campaigning and working with legislators to resolve this gap in U.S. Law. Thanks Bumble’s advocacy, Texas passed House Bill 2789 in 2019, which made it a Class C misdemeanor to electronically send someone sexually explicit images without their consent, punishable by a fine of up to $500. Following this, in April 2022 Virginia passed Senate Bill 493, which prescribes civil penalties for an adult who knowingly sends another adult sexually explicit images without their consent. The Virginia law goes into effect July 1, 2022. (Note: It is already illegal under federal law to send obscene material to a minor, with penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine. Some states also have specific laws that lessen the penalty if the sender is themself a minor.)

NCOSE’s Dignity Defense Award (formerly Dignity Defense Alert) is a campaign recognizing the people, companies, and nonprofits, who are taking action to defend human dignity from any form of sexual abuse or exploitation.

About National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)
Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national non-partisan organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography.  

  

 

The Numbers

300+

NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.

100+

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.

93

NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.

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