It turns out January is the busiest month for online dating since millions of singles have resolved to embark on new adventures — and even finding love — in 2018.
And why not? According to the Pew Institute, over the last ten years, online dating has lost a lot of its stigma, and a majority of Americans now say online dating is a great way to meet people.
But before you start answering personal questions, uploading photos, and chatting with strangers on dating apps like Match, Bumble, Plenty of Fish, eHarmony, Tinder, or OkCupid, it’s a good idea to add a measure of security to your strategy.
We’ve all heard stories of online dates that end terribly or even tragically. However, what you may not be aware of is that with just a few small nods toward security, you can enjoy the fun of online dating minus the worry.
5 ways to protect your privacy on dating apps
- Choose a reputable dating app. Check to see if the dating site takes your privacy seriously. Currently, there are hundreds of dating apps and most will ask you dozens, even hundreds, of personal questions to match you with another member. It’s important to understand what the company is planning to do with all of the information it gathers from you. This information should be under the service’s terms of service/use.Consider the following:
- Does the dating app delete your data after you close your account?
- Some dating sites make user profiles public by default, which means search engines can index them. You can change this immediately to your account’s privacy settings.
- Make sure you understand how your uploaded photos will be used and opt out of any advertorial applications.
- Keep personal info zipped. Everyone wants to make a great impression but create your profile with care. Go through your digital footprint (past online activity) and delete any information that gives away too much personal insight into where you live, your family, your favorite places, or your job. Delete details that could help someone track you outside of the dating app. Think carefully about what you write.
- Check your digital self. When dating online take a few extra steps to protect the privacy of your daily routine. 1) Stop using check-in apps 2) turn off the geo-location in your phone settings, which could allow a dating app to track you 3) When using apps like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram choose not to post your location. To take your privacy a step further, go back and delete the location on earlier photos. It’s easier than ever for someone to go into an app and see a mapped pattern of places you frequent. 4) Consider making your social media accounts private for the duration of your online dating.
- Beware of the catfish. Unfortunately, catfish — people posing as someone else online — have made their way into dating apps. Do your homework on the other person as much as possible. Check out social profiles. If something feels fishy, rethink meeting IRL (In Real Life). Use Reverse Image Search to make sure a person’s profile picture is legitimate. When messaging within a dating app, never share your location, phone number, banking information (obvious but not for everyone), or workplace. Catfish have become incredibly sophisticated and should not be underestimated.
- Inform a friend. This one is more about physical safety but can’t be stated enough. If you arrange to meet with a person outside of the dating app, be sure to let a friend know all the details of the meeting including the name of the person you are meeting. Agree on a location where your friend can pick you up if there’s a problem. Always meet a “date” in a public place and never allow a date to pick you up or drop you off at your home.
Thanks to technology, the world is now your digital oyster when it comes to finding love. So, after you’ve locked down a few critical pieces of your online life, don’t forget to have fun . . . and swipe right.
Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).
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