Slack, the messaging platform that’s taken over the lives of office workers, is about to become even more distracting. The startup has partnered with Feeld, a dating app originally created for threesomes, to create “Feeld for Slack“—a bot that allows employees to share who they have a crush on.
If you’re thinking, Hey, this sounds like an idea that could easily go awry, you’re not alone.
How it works. (Screenshot, https://feeld.co/slack)
To use the bot, a designated administrator at a company must first choose to install the app. But once it’s downloaded, anyone on your Slack team can direct message @Feeld and enter the name of their crush. If the feeling is mutual, both of you get a notification; if not, no one’s the wiser.
Slack has yet to release a statement on Feeld for Slack, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But according to the tagline on Feeld’s Slackbot promo page, the bot is all about “embracing feelings.” There’s just one problem—do companies really want to encourage employees to embrace their feelings for each other?
It’s one thing to acknowledge that workplace romances sometimes happen. (My own parents met at work.) But it’s quite another for a company to actively seek to facilitate them. Recent news has plenty of examples of workplace cultures that have gotten in big trouble for veering into inappropriate, sexualized territory. Miki Agrawal, co-founder and former CEO of the period-underwear company Thinx, faces allegations of sexual harassment, including breast-groping, commenting on her employees’ bodis, and uncomfortable over-sharing. Sexual harassment scandals at Fox News have led to the ousters of host Bill O’Reilly and former CEO Roger Ailes. Uber, too, has been rocked by allegations of sexual harassment, with former engineer Susan Fowler claiming that her manager had propositioned her via chat message. The list goes on.
Employees who share romantic interest in one another should be able to, as Feeld suggests, “embrace feelings” in appropriate, respectful, and consensual ways outside of the office. But when Slack—explicitly a workplace platform—introduces what’s essentially a dating app, the company, and any employers who permit it, are sexualizing what’s supposed to be a safe, professional space. That’s sure to make many employees uncomfortable, even if they opt out.
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