Bumble CEO on Supporting Survivors and Creating Safer Dating Experiences

Each month, RAINN highlights a member of its National Leadership Council. The NLC is a group of dedicated individuals who have shown their commitment to RAINN’s mission of supporting survivors and ending sexual violence.

Whitney Wolfe Herd is the founder and CEO of Bumble, which puts women in control of the online dating experience, and a member of RAINN’s National Leadership Council. She recently became the youngest woman to take a company public and is a passionate advocate for women leaders in business.

What inspired you to become part of RAINN’s National Leadership Council?

When I founded Bumble in 2014, my central mission was — and is — to encourage safe, healthy relationships. I myself am also a survivor of a toxic, abusive relationship; that experience has informed all my work to date. It’s been an honor for Bumble to partner with RAINN, and I’m thrilled to be joining this community of activists and leaders on the NLC, working together to help end sexual violence.

What do we need to do as a country to prevent sexual violence?

We need to promote discussions of healthy relationships from a young age as well as empowering folks of all genders—including men and boys—to be allies. Bystander intervention should be taught on every college campus. We also need to uplift and support the crucial work of organizations like RAINN, who are not only doing the work on the ground to educate communities and provide support to victims, but urging lawmakers to take action to, for instance, end the rape kit backlog.

Do you feel special motivation about this issue as a business leader?

As the founder and CEO of a women-owned dating and networking app, it’s not just my motivation but my responsibility. Internet use so often reflects offline behavior; on our platform, we don’t tolerate abuse or harassment of any kind, whether that’s bullying, body-shaming, misogyny, or hate speech. We’re also working to help ensure there are real-world consequences to online abuse. In 2019, we worked to help pass a law against sending unsolicited nude images in Texas, our home state. We’re now making similar moves in California and New York.

What do you feel is Bumble's role in creating a safer online dating experience?

Beyond our zero-tolerance community guidelines, we offer an ever-growing list of safety features, including the ability to block and report anyone making you uncomfortable without alerting them; a ban on images of guns and violent weapons; an anti-catfish photo verification tool; and our Private Detector feature, which uses A.I. to automatically blur lewd images so our users can decide what they want to see. We also recently launched a Safety and Wellbeing Center within the Bumble app itself, offering advice and helpful resources—including from RAINN—should a member of our community encounter harmful behavior.

How can we all be better supporters and advocates for survivors in our lives?

We can educate ourselves on sexual violence and its ramifications. We can become better advocates for our friends and communities by continually growing our own personal toolkits, perhaps by taking a bystander intervention training or joining a local advocacy group. We can also support the work of experts, like RAINN, by sharing resources and, where possible, making a donation.

What is your message to survivors?

We believe you. We stand with you. You’re not alone. And you deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.

 

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