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Online dating has become a norm today, with millions of people looking for partners on different dating apps.
An idea that began in the mid 1990’s with the dating site Match.com, online dating has now become a worldwide trend, owing to the increased number of dating apps and demands from people. Most of us have tried such dating apps at least once out of curiosity, haven’t we?
While online dating has helped people come together, the risks that come with it are many. You must have noticed the amount of personal information accessed by these apps that can prove dicey, causing unwanted harm to you. Most apps also request access to your social media profiles so as to retrieve your pictures and other data. Despite such privacy issues, it is sad that users still continue to share delicate details and involve in actions that can pose serious risks to privacy.
So should you put a full stop to online dating? Not really. You can still maintain your privacy while meeting people online, let us see how.
- Sharing of Personal and Financial Information – Be alert when connecting with a new person online and share only a limited amount of personal data. Apparently, these apps can also access your social media profile, which means, sharing your contact number, home address, office location etc. on social media can also be risky. Limit your chats to the app and do not connect outside of the app until he/she has won your trust. Be even more careful when someone asks you for financial help. Never give out your financial details and always use secure payment options if you must transfer money (to reliable people, for valid reasons).
- Get alternate phone numbers and emails – If at all you plan to connect outside of the app, it would still be better not to share your personal phone number or email with that person. Instead, create fake numbers/emails especially for this purpose.
- Background Check – Like it’s said, “Better safe than sorry”, it’s always safer to research about the person and fish for warning signs. Here are some of the things you can do: check their number of friends on social media, find out if he/she possesses multiple social media profiles, check the person’s public records for any illegal activity, make use of reverse image search to find out if their photos are taken from another profile, request for an audio/video call before moving forward etc.
- Create a Safety Net – So you and your new partner have decided to meet up. What can you do to avoid unwanted risks? Simply inform your close friends/family about your plan and where you can be located. You can also keep some safety apps turned on so that they can come to your rescue during an emergency. And always remember, people will come to your help if you let them know you’re in trouble. An item you can get would be a personal safety alarm which are available affordably at online stores like Lazada or Qoo10. Never hesitate to ask the server/bartender/other people for help when in a public space.
- Password and Privacy – Create a strong, unique password for your profile while registering on the dating app. Avoid logging in to the app/creating an account via Facebook or other social media platforms, as it will build a strong link between the dating app and your social media profile.
- Trust your gut – Have you been giving a deaf ear to your gut feeling? Then it’s time you paid attention to your instincts and avoided proceeding too quickly. If you find yourself in situations similar to the following, you can be rest assured that it’s unsafe and time to flee: when the person makes inappropriate jokes/advances, you are asked about your personal life too soon, you are lied to regarding their life and other aspects, you are asked to meet in a private locale etc. Blocking their number or burning your existing number and getting a new one is another way to distance yourself from the person.
- Use your own transportation – If you two have planned for a date, its best to take your own transportation, rather than having the person pick you up. Also make sure to have a burner number handy, which can be shared with a stranger/cab driver if the need arises.
- Go Incognito – Enable the Incognito/private browsing mode that keeps you safe from having your online activities’ history saved. You may also protect your privacy by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). It helps hide your IP address by routing your traffic via a chain of servers before forwarding it to the actual destination.