Online dating, which has become increasingly ubiquitous in our society, comes with its own set of risks and rewards. While it’s a brilliant way to meet people you might not have otherwise have the chance to, sharing your personal information online via a dating app opens you up to various privacy issues.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help protect your personal privacy on dating apps and keep yourself safe if you choose to meet in real life.
The privacy risks of online dating
As with many online platforms these days, putting your personal information on dating apps carries a certain amount of risk. Many dating apps monitor your activity on the app and then store that data. These apps also do not offer users any real guarantee that their personal information, activity, and conversations will remain private or secure. Therefore, it’s important to take an active role to protect your privacy as best you can if you choose to use a dating app.
We have outlined 10 of our top tips for staying safe while dating, which will go a long way in maintaining your safety both online and off.
Protecting yourself online
Thinking critically about what you put online and exercising caution on the internet are two of the best methods you can use to protect your privacy on online dating apps. Here’s our advice for staying safe online:
1. Carefully consider what you choose to share online.
We all have that one friend who can find the guy we met at a restaurant last week simply by knowing his name and the name of the beer league softball team he plays for. It’s almost scary how easy it is to find information about someone online these days. Limiting the amount of personal information you share online, like what you do, where you work, and your phone number, will help protect your privacy. If you’re wondering what information is available about you, use a site like Nuwber to search for it.
2. Use different photos on your dating app profiles.
If you’re using the same photos for your dating apps and social media, you’re making it very easy for someone to find out more about you online. A simple reverse image search will yield your social media accounts along with the personal information you’ve posted there. For dating apps, use photos you haven’t posted anywhere else online.
3. Be aware of location tracking on dating apps.
While location settings are useful to find potential dates in your area, make sure that the dating app you’re using sufficiently obscures your location so other users can’t determine exactly where you are.
4. Choose a dating app that requires demonstrated mutual interest before interaction.
Some of the top dating apps allow anyone to contact you, regardless of whether you have expressed interest in them or not. This is a recipe for those dating app message horror stories we’re all familiar with. Keep unwanted messages to a minimum by avoiding this type of dating app.
5. Stick to the dating app’s messaging system.
Yes, this might be a bit inconvenient, and you probably are interested in whether they’re green or blue, but stick with the dating app’s in-app messaging system when you’re first interacting with potential dates. This gives you an extra layer of protection through the app. It also prevents just anyone from having your phone number.
Protecting yourself on dates
So you found a match, you’ve been chatting, and you’re ready to move things offline and into the real world. That’s amazing! Protecting yourself extends into the offline world as well, particularly when meeting someone you met online. Take responsibility for your personal safety with these safe dating tips:
1. Before you agree to a date, do a little extra research.
Unfortunately, not everyone we meet online is exactly who they claim to be. For your personal safety, consider doing some background research into your prospective date. You can use Nuwber to find publicly available information, including police records, quite easily. Verifying your potential date’s identity can alert you to possible red flags and give you peace of mind before meeting someone in person.
2. Choose a public place for your first date.
Opting for a cafe, restaurant, sporting event, or really any place where there are other people around is a wise choice for a first date. On the off-chance that something goes awry or things don’t work out, your personal safety is less at risk in a public venue.
3. Let a friend know where you’re going.
Send a close friend a few details about where you’re going and who you’re going with before your first date. You can even set a time for a check-in some time during the date or use a location sharing feature on your phone so your friend knows exactly where you are.
4. Keep the alcohol to a minimum if you choose to drink.
On a first date with someone you don’t really know, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings to keep yourself safe. We all know that alcohol does not go hand-in-hand with good decision making or self-awareness, so stick to one drink or avoid the booze altogether on your first couple dates.
5. Know when you to if the date simply isn’t working for you.
If your date begins exhibiting aggressive behavior, like ranting about a past relationship, acting too pushy, maybe insisting you come back to his place, or arouses your suspicion for any reason, get out. There’s no reason to feel obligated to stick it out for someone who’s making you feel uncomfortable or uneasy. If needed, enlist the help of a friend or staff member. Never feel guilty for putting your personal safety first.
Like many online platforms, online dating apps carry their own set of privacy risks. If you choose to use a dating app, protect yourself and your personal privacy by taking responsibility for your safety, online and in the real world. These easily actionable tips will help keep you safe in the crazy world that is online dating today.