PLAINTIFF: JANE DOE
WITNESS: ANN WITHAM, CEO ‘PREF+’
REPORTER’S PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDING
Did I regret the application? No. If we hadn’t created it, someone else would have, and who’s to say they would have done it any better? Do I regret what happened with it? Well, I suppose to an extent. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt, if that’s what you mean. But again, I don’t regret its existence, and I certainly don’t think that the application is to blame.
Know yourself. Know your partner. Pref+.
The idea was simple. I’m honestly surprised it hadn’t been done before. We put everything on our phones and yet, I was still having these same tedious and drawn out conversations, awkward and flailing. What do I like? What don’t I like? What if I like something done by one person and not another? So, we simplified it. Here is my profile and here are my wants and needs. My preferences, if you will. Check a box here and there, share the link, and now you can access all this information yourself. Pore over it before our third date — I’m a third date kind of girl. Sorry. That was a joke. I didn’t mean to offend.
But, that was the point of the app, to take awkwardness out of the equation. To streamline the conversation. And it worked! It worked for millions of people who downloaded in our first year. Sure, we had that initial pushback, but so did Tinder. And now online dating is the norm. As is having a Pref+ profile. My parents use it. It’s just as helpful for couples as for singles, maybe more so. And it’s about self discovery too. There are terms on there I haven’t even heard of! No, not because I claim to know a lot about this area — I mean, I do, but I don’t, you know. I just mean as the creator. Even I was discovering new things every day, new kinks, new methods of exploration.
If communication is the lock, Pref+ is the key.
Consent can be a confusing thing. We have never claimed to understand it completely, or to have addressed it perfectly — sorry, scratch that. What I mean is that consent is a tricky thing and we have addressed it to the best of our abilities in the terms and conditions. Sharing your profile is not consent, having a profile at all is not consent. This is something Pref+ takes very seriously. Our mission statement has always included caveats regarding consent. Our aim is not to replace real life conversation. We believe that communication is always of the utmost importance. Pref+ has always considered itself a facilitator to relationships.
Yes, we were aware of how the sharing method evolved and manifested amongst the 16 to 18-year-old user bracket. That is the nature of all applications. The intention may be different from the final expression. The reason we made it available, from what some consider to be such a young age, is because that’s when you reach the age of consent. If you’re old enough to consent, you’re old enough to have preferences. That is our belief. We are a sex-positive company, after all. And yes, we are aware of the trend amongst our younger users of needing to be their most adventurous selves in order to be more interesting, more desirable. That is outside of my scope of comment, I’m afraid. It is not an idea that the company subscribes to, I can tell you that.
Pref+. Where you can be yourself, with others.
I cannot reasonably provide a conclusion to this case. As it goes, my heart and the entire company’s heart goes out to both individuals involved. The confusion on either end is, clearly, incredibly hard to broach. Hard to clear up.
However, I — and the company — maintain that the application is not at fault. No application can be. There is still always someone on the other side of the screen.