Online Dating: How to Ensure Your Security and Privacy

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  • #2565

    They say heartbreaks are the worst. Well it does hurt pretty bad. When one experiences such a thing you can swear never to love again, or even date, but we all know how that ends up. In this modern age, finding a person and eventually dating has never been made easier thanks to our technology. But then, when the deal is too good think twice. By visiting any of the numerous dating sites (like Match.com, OkCupid, Tinder which are mostly used) you can simply create a profile and start meeting new potential suitors right from the comfort of your favorite couch. And just as fast, you can make yourself vulnerable to con artists, phonies and online attackers or just any psycho with a computer and strong Wi-Fi connection.

    According to UK’s National Crime Agency, reports of online dating-related sex crimes have increased by 450% in five years. The stigma associated with online dating had reduced by only 6% according to Pew studies of 2005 and 2016, revealing that a large group of people still think that is a desperate move. This has however reduced to a minute percentage as per today. Surprisingly, this did not deter millennials from joining the online dating team. Taking the statistics between 2013 to 2015 for example, the number of senior users doubled from 6% to 12% and their younger counterparts from late teens to early 20s almost tripled from 10% to 27%.

    Sounds crazy, but that actually isn’t the whole of it. Online dating beats all the other conventional tools for meeting potential soulmate like friends, work and school combined. Between 2002-2012, a third of the newly wed met online. OkCupid is said to be responsible for over 40,000 first dates and Tinder reports to have a billion swipes daily. As Aziz Ansar put it in Modern Romance, “No other way of establishing a connection has ever increased so far, so fast.” Enough of the statistics, how can you ensure you practice online dating safety especially if you plan to join in soon? Here are the do’s and don’ts.

    Choosing a dating site
    There are so many with each offering different options. Some are for specific people while others are general. While getting one that suits you, it’s also important to ensure the site is secure.
    • Consider joining one of the most popular sites like Tinder, OkCupid, Match.com etc. Extensively research on the site prior to, and get to know how it works.
    • Join a paid site. This is actually a very good idea, sites that charge people discourage scammers since they mostly run criminal background screening. You’re quite guaranteed of meeting serious and legit dates.
    • Pay attention to the privacy policy of the site. Check how they handle any type of information you share on your profile.

    Profile
    This is how you put yourself out there. Most people want to create this perfect persona in order to meet more respectable potentials. 50% to 80% of online dating users lie about themselves on profile. Women usually about their age and men about their job. I’ll always stand for the fact that it isn’t right to start dating anyone on the basis of lies, especially if you want it to last. This then doesn’t mean you share all your details , that is actually dangerous. To ensure your privacy:
    • Do not give both your real names on the profile or to any potential match before you meet. What doesn’t Google know? With both your first and second name, or the surname, any stranger can access all your background history available online. Imagine a stalker knowing where you live or even which company you work for. It can lead to a security breach or dire consequences. As a matter of fact Google yourself, see what information is out there about you. So no second names, emails or addresses.
    • Do not use the same pictures or usernames you have on any of your social media accounts. Linking a dating account with any of your other accounts is a bad idea. Reverse image search can effortlessly lead anyone back to the other websites. The same goes for the username. As a safety precaution though, you can do online searches of a person you are about to meet, even use their picture to run Google face recognition just to have a vivid idea of the type of person he or she is.
    • Use in-site messaging and in addition create a free email with aliases, not your real name. As you continue talking to a person, you might begin to trust them and start letting your guard off one after the other. Usually, after a few chats, people advance to either emails or more commonly calls. When it gets to this point, use that email instead.
    • Get a Google Voice number. Thanks to this, you get a new number forwarded to your phone which you can use in online dating. Enabling you to simultaneously talk to your dates and protect your cell number. It is very simple to block people too when you feel threatened or uncomfortable.

    Ask as many questions as you want before meeting anyone. Let them give you a recent unedited picture of themselves to ascertain they are whom their profile picture insinuates them to be. Don’t be afraid of making your found date a little uncomfortable, just don’t be a weirdo, they’ll outright block you. We both don’t want that for you. Learn how to efficiently identify online dating scammers. They create fake profiles and dupe you into giving them sensitive personal information.

    Be very careful about your webcam chatting behavior, it might be used to blackmail you. Don’t visit links without critically thinking about them, they can be leading to malicious sites. Also learn to check red flags like someone coming up with a sob story, asking for money, using celebrity pictures or someone else’s instead or seemingly postponing your first real date. The person might just be nervous on the brighter side, if not, they want to keep it online because there’s something to hide. Ultimately, better safe than sorry.

    #5382
    #5728
    Anonymous

    Well what a piece of work this is. I have to say it’s well written and very well researched, yet the truth is it cautions one to even try online dating in the first place. With all the possible risks so eloquently presented here, this sounds like a giant headache altogether. We have to act as detectives, spies, and interrogators all at once to ensure that people are not trying to one-up us online? Here’s a thought; what ever happened to good old fashioned courtship, eh? You know, meeting someone, engaging in some flirtation, banter, asking for their number. This whole swiping left and right has turned dating into something resembling fast food. I personally don’t think there are many valuable and long term relationship prospects to be found off websites and apps of this nature. Best to steer clear of them altogether.

    #5730
    Anonymous

    Allow me to say that this stance is far too cynical for my liking. There are risks involved in absolutely everything in life, and all this article is aiming for is to instruct us on how to safeguard ourselves against the risks that online dating carries. Even when meeting people in person, they may be wearing a facade, and seeking to cause harm or scam us. Human beings display the same type of behaviour everywhere, and choosing to flat out cancel an entire method that has worked for many efficiently is foolish and narrow minded.

    #5782

    If you ask me, meeting people online takes away all the joy that comes with courtship and natural flirtation. You cannot gage a person’s reactions when that person is not stood in front of you. The human element is completely missing and it arrives at a point where things are misinterpreted on the screen. Hence why, to me, online dating feels much like fast food. Too many options, lots of quantity, without involving much quality. Also, as is made clear by this article, it seems to present a plethora of dangers which does not make it worth the headache. I’ll pass.

    #5795

    I really disagree. The world is moving forward and us along with it. There are many pros to actually getting online and meeting new people for friendship or dating prospects. One is that you get to meet people you may have otherwise never come across. A second is that it GIVES you those options, so that you could filter out those that aren’t really your type and have a higher chance of meeting your preferred type of people and engaging with them. Third is that it takes away the shyness and embarrassment sometimes involved with online dating. This is a new age, and we should always seek to use modern tools wisely, hence this guide. Keep an open mind.

    #5987

    I would agree with Katherine Smyth, who wrote in the New York Times, saying online dating “it can be demoralizing. It can also enlarge your world.” The same can be said of social media. Reality is we live in a world where industries and relationships are perceived socially, influenced by social media and disinformation. It is against this backdrop that we must take a step back and reassess our social engagements online. A lot of people would be shocked if they took the time to read the terms of use of virtually all mobile apps.

    #6005

    I would agree with you Jaden Najeeb, as I myself have been catfished and lied to through online dating apps numerous times, and found myself on the downside of luck, and I would also agree that almost nobody reads the terms of use at all, which is a problem. The best thing I’d say, is to just steer clear of them.

    #6063

    I personally don’t like online dating, as it is rarely ever the case that you can meet someone worthwhile or genuine online. You mostly meet men that are the least desirable, weird, or incapable of displaying themselves in a reasonably positive light in real life. And here I am now reading about the possible dangers of it all, which surely cannot be taken lightly. It is a no go for me.

    #6070

    I love online dating, because for me, that is how I met my husband who I’ve been happily married to for 3 years now. Yet, I can sympathise with the reservations some people have about it, since I know a few people who have had some less than flattering experiences. And now, with reading this article, I can see I got really lucky, as I didn’t have the misfortune of facing any of these dangers, which I know are all very valid. Well done, good article.

    #6088

    I have been so unlucky with online dating, mostly because I am hideous, and the pictures I post are perhaps not the most flattering that a lady would wish to gaze upon. But then again, I can see now that with all the dangers involved in it, it’s allowed me to stay pretty much on the safe side. No one is going to bother with me to try and compromise me in the first place.

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