Can You Actually Sue Someone For Harassing You On Tinder?
If you’ve used Tinder (or another dating app) as a female, you’ve likely felt uncomfortable at some point. Maybe someone you matched with starting sending you derogatory and inappropriate messages, or perhaps a guy got angry and started threatening you when you refused to send him nudes or give him your phone number.
These instances are concerning, but sadly not a big surprise considering the reality of how men act when pursuing women, especially when they can hide behind their cell phones. Usually, when you realize that the cute guy who said he was 6’10” in his profile may actually be a raging megalomaniac, you can un-match him and/or block him, and be on with your life.
But, if you’ve already met said guy before realizing he’s a fucking psycho, or you’ve given him personal information such as your last name or phone number, things can get ugly or frightening.
The question is, what can you do about it? It seems that sometimes the US government doesn’t even take actual rape occurrences seriously, so can we really expect them to take rape threats distributed on social media or a dating app seriously?
In Australia, the mythical land where they seem to have their priorities straight in terms of stopping mass killings and not allowing girls to get raped, Olivia Melville found herself in a unique and horrific situation when Chris Hall posted a screenshot of her Tinder profile on Facebook.
You’d think Hall’s lame attempts to garner Facebook likes and the fact that he doesn’t know Drake lyrics was bad enough; but it gets worse. Zane Alchin, 25, one of Hall’s Facebook friends, got really worked up about this post. He posted over 50 comments in response to Melville and her friends attempting to defend Melville’s profile and get the post taken down.
If you’re interested in what kind of loser spends his life attacking an innocent girl for a Tinder bio, it’s the type of guy who also posts comments like this:
This is just one example of the comments that Alchin made toward Melville and her friends. Others included him threatening to rape and kill a girl’s mother.
Although this incident occurred in 2015, the hearing has finally began and Alchin, who changed his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty” on the first day of the trial, is facing up to three years in jail if convicted.
Unfortunately, you’re probably aware that it’s a bit more difficult to get the US government up with the times, or to rule in favor of women in general, so what can you do if you’re seriously threatened while stuck in the land of the “free” misogynists and readily available AK-14s?
“When this happens to a victim, they can take their complaint to one of the justice system’s two worlds: criminal or civil,” explained Danielle Citron, professor at the University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey’s School of Law, to The Atlantic. “In the civil court, victims of these kinds of cyber attacks, from stalking to revenge porn to online bullying, can sue their harassers through something called tort law, otherwise known as civil wrongs. There, victims can claim the torts of defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, harassment, and public disclosure of private fact.”
Unfortunately, we all know that suing someone ain’t cheap, and half of the time you end up spending a fortune only to lose the case. Additionally, many women don’t want to bring their cases to court for fear of drawing negative public attention to themselves.
When a woman from Hawaii wanted to sue the person who had posted her nudes online, the court didn’t allow her to sue as “Jane Doe.” Because the internet, social media, and the like are relatively new platforms, our judicial system has not passed laws to reflect the potential danger that they hold. I mean seriously, our government still can’t reform an amendment that was devised about a one barrel musket in 1787, so we shouldn’t be surprised.
Actually, the supreme court struck down a harassment case in 2015, setting the precedent for courts to not rule for victims of online harassment. In the case, a Pennsylvanian man violently threatened his wife, her kindergarten class, and various law officials. While the wife told the New York Times, “I felt extremely afraid for mine and my children’s and my family’s lives,” the convicted’s lawyers argued that the man was protected under the first amendment, and that his graphic statements were “tongue-in-cheek remarks in the style often used by rap musicians.” We’re pretty sure that Kanye saying “Me and Taylor might still have sex,” is a little different from a dude threatening preschoolers, but whatevs.
Regardless, if you want to feel safer against online harassment and potential rape threats, maybe you should move to a new country. If you’re Australian, you can sign the petition that Melville created after being threatened via Facebook. If you’re stuck in the US like I am, your best bet is to get involved in similar groups in your area, and to research your local candidates to see their views on matters of online crime.