Blockchain’s role in the age of #MeToo

In 2017, sexual assault and harassment victims around the world finally got their chance at being heard when they tackled the issue through the widespread social media campaign known as the #MeToo movement.

The movement was based on the hashtag #MeToo, for people of all genders and backgrounds who had been assaulted to tell their story or show the world that the problem was more widespread than they were given credit for. This raised awareness and conversations across the planet about sexual assault, consent, and what to do about the problem.

The world ever adapting, this includes technology. We know how blockchain technology is used to protect data and finances, as well as it’s vital role in e-currency. But could it really have a place in the revolutionary #MeToo movement? Well, it looks like it may already have one.

Why Blockchain?

Dating apps are common in 2018, but so is catfishing. Blockchain is being used in many new startup dating apps as a means to fix security problems that have been present in some of the most common dating apps like Tinder and its contemporaries. Investopedia pointed out that using blockchain increases matchmaking potential, transparency and identity verification, and it’s redefining what we think of dating apps as. For instance, some of these apps even require a person to reveal if they have an STD up front.

This isn’t the first time blockchain technology has been used to address matters of health security — Duquesne University covered how that kind of technology is being used to prevent data breaches in the healthcare in an infographic they released recently. However, this may be the first time it’s being brought into our day-to-day sexual lives. Additionally, its use to vet members is keeping people safe from potential predators. The benefits of blockchain for these reasons are obvious. But there are some barriers to it becoming widespread, even with the pros.

Criticisms

Not everyone thinks hard, required consent brought forth by these blockchain apps is reasonable. Some have begun using blockchain technology to create apps that require legal, recorded consent before ever “hooking up.” However, there are people who believe this to be an overreaction and an invasion of privacy. They argue that it’s dangerous, due to ill-intentioned people who could claim rape happened while both parties actually consented with body language and other spoken words — it would put proof on the app, not the actual encounter.

Among those who have decried these apps is French actress Catherine Deneuve, who went as far to decry the #MeToo movement due to her views on the app then took it back. She said, “clumsy flirting” is not a crime and implied that such apps would make it so. However, supporters of the app say that is not the point, putting emphasis on the importance of consent. They call for assured consent.

The Practical Middle Ground

There does seem to be a middle ground between those claiming these apps is an overstep and those who recognize technology’s place in the #MeToo movement besides a hashtag on social media. Before addressing what technology can do, we need to admit that our culture has simply done a terrible job of teaching consent.

Consent starts with education, as does preventing STDs and communicating transparently before entering into a sexual situation. This includes emphasizing the importance of first handling your sexual health before even making an account on any of these apps. Yes, it can be a hassle, and sometimes money is an issue. However, sometimes insurance will cover your reproductive health procedures, and other times you may have to pay out of pocket. But taking care of yourself is important before engaging in any kind of sexual activity, as is having the absolute consent of the other party involved.

After teaching consent, we have to accept that there are ill-intentioned people in the world. Why can’t a system such as the blockchain technology be used in such an important way as to combat perpetrators of sexual assault? These apps need to enlist the best ways to protect user data, of course, but that’s what blockchain is good at! Additionally, encrypting financial data as well as people’s private information like phone numbers and e-mail addresses can be handled through blockchain.

If we really want the apps to cover the problem as best as possible, then maybe we should start enlisting women in the creation of such apps, as statistically they often find themselves on the victim side of #MeToo situations. There are several women involved in blockchain technology that could collaborate with app developers to create an app that is safe for data and a person’s safety and approaches sexual consent realistically. However, until these apps become widespread and consent features are more than just narrowly tested, we won’t be able to have a perfect system.

Have you used a dating app that has a consent feature? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.