It’s easy to be nervous about the outcome of a Tinder interaction, but it turns out there’s just as much reason to be concerned about the origin of the craze. One of the Co-founders of the social dating app has been suspended following allegations that he sexually harassed a former female employee.
Justin Mateen was benched by Tinder’s owner, IAC, after Whitney Wolfe, also a fellow Co-founder and former VP, filed a lawsuit claiming she was the victim of sexual harassment from her former colleague, who is also her ex-partner.
Among other deplorable remarks, Mateen allegedly called Wolfe a “whore” and said her Co-founder status “makes the company seem like a joke”, in addition to various racist and threatening texts.
IAC provided the following statements to explain Mateen’s suspension:
“Immediately upon receipt of the allegations contained in Ms. Wolfe’s complaint, Mr. Mateen was suspended pending an ongoing internal investigation. Through that process, it has become clear that Mr. Mateen sent private messages to Ms. Wolfe containing inappropriate content. We unequivocally condemn these messages, but believe that Ms. Wolfe’s allegations with respect to Tinder and its management are unfounded.”
While we applaud IAC for acting on the allegations, one part still raises concern. The statement claims Tinder’s top management doesn’t support Mateen’s behaviour, yet the reason Wolfe filed a lawsuit and complained to the Los Angeles Superior Court in the first place is that the company failed to take the issue seriously beforehand. According to Wolfe, Tinder’s CEO, Sean Rad, initially brushed off her complaints as “dramatic”.
Unfortunately, acts like this seems par for the course with tech companies, often accused of working with a fraternity-like ‘bro-gramming’ culture. Just last month, Snapchat’s CEO, Evan Spiegel, was forced to apologise after a series of leaked emails revealed a trend of disrespectful behaviour towards women during his university years, featuring comments such as “fuckbitchesgetlaid”.
Of course, it’s still only alleged that Mateen spurted sexist, racist and threatening remarks at Wolfe, and even if it holds to be true, it’s possible that it’s an isolated incident. Still, the all too frequent claims that the tech space isn’t welcoming of women indicates that the investigation shouldn’t end with Mateen.
VINCENT VARNEY is a Sydney-based writer. Follow him on Twitter.