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Women Used Popular Dating App ‘Bumble’ to Capture Evidence of Capitol Rioters, Then Sent It To the FBI


WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Thousands of Donald Trump supporters storm the United States Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. The protesters stormed the historic building, breaking windows and clashing with police. Trump supporters had gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election.

Never underestimate the evidentiary potential of those looking to get a little lovin’ while they’re mounting an insurrection.

Multiple women used the dating app Bumble following the attack on the U.S. Capitol last week to lure unsuspecting rioters and turn them over to the FBI. Bumble’s tag line, “where women make the first move,” seems perfectly tailored to this particular exercise of ingenuity.

One user tweeted that she knew someone who’d changed set her political preference on Bumble to “conservative,” thus obtaining pictures and videos of rioters inside the Capitol. The move earned props from John Sipher, veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency’s National Clandestine Service.

The tweets about women’s cyber-sleuthing efforts went viral. Bumble issued a statement on January 12, saying it had “taken action on accounts that have violated . . . policy.”  It also said it was “monitoring activity and will remove any users that have been confirmed as participants in the attack of the U.S. Capitol.”

While distancing itself from the riot, Bumble did not appear wholly supportive of the women’s efforts to aid law enforcement. On January 14, Bumble issued another statement, saying that it had “temporarily removed” its “politics filter to prevent misuse.”

The internet was not pleased.

Perhaps the dating website’s reluctance to embroil itself in the fallout from the Capitol riots was connected to its recent filing to go public. Bumble, Inc., which also owns European dating site Badoo, boasted 2.4 million paying users as of September 2020 and reported $417 million in revenue in the first nine months of 2020. The company was founded in 2014 by Whitney Wolfe Herd and Russian billionaire Andrey Andreev. Wolfe Herd previously settled a sexual harassment case with Tinder, her former employer.

When questioned about its motivation for removing the politics filter, Bumble reportedly told the press that “Where our AI technology flags photos, hate symbols or text content that promotes the insurrection or related activities, those are removed, with repeated offenses or more extreme content resulting in a user being banned.”

There was wide public condemnation for Bumble’s decision to remove the filter.

Hours later, though, the filter was back up.

As the FBI continues to investigate the insurrection on January 6, it will surely be following more leads from “the hive.”

Bumble did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s request for comment.

[Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos