Online dating has rapidly gained in popularity as a common way to connect to potential dates or find a partner.Many people have concerns about the safety of online dating, often due to widely publicized stories of assault and abuse. For anyone considering online dating, it’s important to have information about privacy and safety options.
Of course, sexual assaults related to adult dating sites may be on the rise just because online dating itself is on the rise. Everyone should be able to be online safely, free from harassment and abuse. Young adults, and particularly young women, experience online harassment at a high rate.
The definition of sexual harassment is essentially anything unwanted that’s sexual in nature. Online, it could be sexual communication that’s intimidating, predatory, or humiliating. It could be an image or inappropriate texts. Perhaps unsolicited or insistent messages. Jokes, even. And while we can argue that between consenting adults these could be acceptable, online there can be a high degree of uncertainty that true consent is mutual between two people.
Harassment, threats, and abuse that happen “only” online should be taken seriously. Such experiences can be traumatizing and may include financial crime or identity theft. Victims report efforts to ruin their reputations and drive them from an online community. If enough identifying information is known, the abuse can also quickly become an offline threat.
Never disclose private information on online dating sites.
Be very careful about how and when you meet people in person.
Take every precaution that profiles you are looking at are genuine.
Never be tempted to send or transfer money to people you meet online, however unfortunate their story.
Strategies to Increase Privacy and Safety
The most common concern with sex dating online dating is safety, especially as users move to meet up in real life. People often ask, “How do you know the other person is really who they say they are?” and “How can I protect myself?” Another concern with online dating and dating in real life is the non-consensual sharing of intimate images.
When creating accounts and profiles, choose a username that doesn’t include your real name or other identifying information. Protect your privacy by not giving out identifying or contact information.
Consider using different email addresses, profile pictures, and strong passwords for dating sites, and maybe even for each site you use. Keeping this information separate from the rest of your life can help protect your privacy and safety.
Search for yourself online, or use privacy checking services to find out what information is available about you online.
Do an internet search for the person. Check out news articles, social media sites, and images. Remember that criminal background checks only turn up information if someone has been arrested and/or prosecuted.
Be careful about attachments and links, which might install spyware or other malware on your devices.
Trust your instincts. If you start to feel uncomfortable, it’s always ok to cease contact.
Considering Meeting In Real Life (IRL)
Meet up instead of having them pick you up.
Bring your phone.
Let a friend know ahead of time where you are going, and that you will reach out to them when the date is over.
Leave an address and some information somewhere.
Familiarize yourself with the meet-up spot ahead of time. Only meet where you’re comfortable.
Watch out for people saying they want to visit but need loans to be able to get to you, or who use other stories to gain your sympathy and then ask for money.
Watch what you drink on your date, and keep your eye on your drink at all times. Being drunk can put you in a range of situations you may not be in control in.
Keep contact details private. Stay in control when it comes to how and when you share information. Don’t include your contact information such as your email address, home address, or phone number in your profile or initial communications.
Take things slowly and share more information when you feel comfortable doing so. It is impossible to get back information once you have given it away.
Stop communicating with anyone who attempts to pressure you into providing your personal or financial information or who seems to be trying to trick you into providing it.
Be careful when accessing your account from a public or shared computer so that others can’t view or record your password or personal information.
Be wary of opening email attachments from someone you have only just met
Ensure that you keep your internet security software up to date.
It’s ok to schedule short dates or to cut dates short if it’s not going in a direction you are interested in (no matter how long you’ve been chatting). Trust your instincts.