An OU alumna has created Xoxy — a way to avoid the awkward conversations about sexual and criminal history.
Saying “yes” to a date based on a profile picture and brief description can sometimes get students more than they bargained for, such as a sexually transmitted disease or a stalker.
Jo Lynn Clemens, a 1987 Ohio University alumna, is the founder of Xoxy, the app that eliminates deceitful dating by taking the awkward conversation out of a person’s criminal and sexual history.
“The fact is that casual dating apps like Tinder and others have led to an increase in the transmission of STDs nationwide,” Clemens said. “Seventy percent of college students date online, and that can subject them to violent crimes, those with criminal intent and with questionable health background.”
The app, while not a dating website, complements any dating profile by confirming the person has had no felonies in all 50 states, no sex offenses and passes an STD test. A Xoxy membership is $139 for 6 months or $23.95 per month.
Clemens thought of the idea to create Xoxy when her daughter was in college, and she recognized the scary reality of going on a date with someone without knowing the criminal or sexual history of that individual.
App users authorize their identification, and Xoxy’s partner ICS-Merrill, an investigative service, does an electronic background check for felonies and sexual offenses. For the STD test, Xoxy places an order for the user at a local lab. The results are sent to that individual and Xoxy.
Users must pass both tests to be a credentialed Xoxy member.
If someone does not pass the background check and STD diagnosis, they will not be put into the app's searchable system for members, but no one knows they attempted.
“There’s no negative ramifications for doing it, and for those who are reluctant to do so, then there needs to be a conversation as to why,” she said. “I wanted to create honesty and integrity in relationships.”
Shelby Jordan, a sophomore studying biology, said she uses dating apps like Friendsy and Tinder but is still nervous meeting people in person, just based on a picture and small talk.
"I’m always kind of afraid to meet people I’ve met on Tinder because they could be completely different than what you think they are,” Jordan said. "Especially in college when you have men in their 20s, you don’t really know what their intentions are all of the time, or where they’ve been."
Xoxy, which is pronounced “zocksee,” is combination of the phrase, hugs and kisses (XOXO) and symbols of male (XY) and female (XX) chromosomes. The app was launched January 2015 for both Android and Apple phones.
“(The app) has grown substantially,” Clemens said. “Especially with the fact that one in five females are assaulted on college campuses — it’s very relevant.”
Once someone is “xoxied,” Clemens said then people can avoid that awkward conversation they are generally not having on the first few dates.
Jordan said she believes Xoxy is a good idea, but doesn’t believe everyone would use it.
"I feel like some (students) will,” she said. “People who will use it don’t have anything to hide.”
“It’s the world’s first credential for dating. There’s nothing like it that currently exists,” Clemens said. “Initially, we had to change our messaging because people assumed that it was a dating site, and it’s not because there is no communication within the site.”
The risks of dating and online hookups are a reality for students, and apps like Xoxy can have the potential to help.
"There’s so many (risks),” Jordan said. "Are they dangerous people? I don’t want to get hurt or anything.”
Sean Wolfe contributed to this report.