Jason Lawrance was finally jailed for raping women he met online, but how many complaints did it require for action to be taken?

It’s a reasonable assumption that businesses will have measures in place to protect customers from serious harm

Holly Baxter
Thursday 03 March 2016 22:13 GMT
Comments
Jason Lawrance was found guilty of five counts of rape, one sexual assault and an attempted rape after meeting women on Match.com
Jason Lawrance was found guilty of five counts of rape, one sexual assault and an attempted rape after meeting women on Match.com (Rex Features)

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

The case of Jason Lawrance is shocking not just because of the crimes themselves, but because of the lack of basic safeguarding offered by match.com. The fact that four women had made complaints to the site before three others were raped beggars belief.

Nobody is denying what Match said in a no-brainer of a statement, most of which amounted to “bad people exist everywhere, and when they do bad things they should be punished”. And yes, it’s vital to stay streetwise even when it’s cyber terrain you’re traversing.

But it’s also a reasonable assumption that businesses will have measures in place to protect customers from serious harm.

Dating apps and websites are notorious for throwing a spotlight on the dregs of human behaviour. When left with a cameraphone and a programme connecting oneself to an anonymous group of women, many a man (or boy) has proven himself capable of taking “dick pics” and sending them to those he’s matched with.

The phenomenon is so common that a sizeable proportion of millennials have now given up on their previous sacred cow Tinder and moved over to Bumble, the rival app created by a woman who once worked for Tinder. The main differentiator between the apps? Women have to make the first move, or a conversation can’t begin.

It’s quickly earned itself a reputation as the “feminist” dating app. That shouldn’t be – and isn’t – enough to eradicate the dick-pic problem, but anecdotal evidence suggests it’s a much friendlier place to find a date, a relationship or a one-night stand.

The demand for dating apps which don’t quickly become a byword for people sending pornographic images to students has undoubtedly driven innovation.

The newer ones use social pressure to hold you to account for what you post. Hinge, for instance, matches you up with friends of your Facebook friends. So unless you’re bold enough to face a colleague in the office loudly asking why her maid of honour received a high-res image of your genitals last night, you’ll probably refrain from unsavoury online behaviour.

Tinder now (finally) asks why you’re blocking someone, a pre-emptive responsible move in identifying those who misuse their product.

Policing dating sites, as well as social media and other online spaces, isn’t as hard as a lot of site owners and app managers would have us believe. But plenty of them haven’t half dragged their feet about doing it.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in