LIFESTYLE

Staying safe when dating online – Is it up to providers to ensure safety?

By Lily Asis

For people of all sexual orientations, online dating has opened up a new world of possibilities. Whether you find it difficult to meet people or to be yourself, the Internet can be a place to form new relationships and gain confidence in who you are.

And while there are a lot of positives, there are dangers too – even the friendliest of online LGBT dating sites pose a danger to individuals. Safety is important, but where does the responsibility rest: With the user or the Website provider?

IMAGE SOURCE: Pexels

MONEY-MAKING VERSUS SAFETY

For users, online dating is a way to meet new people and explore your interests that could lead you to find love on the Internet. What you need to remember though is that online dating websites are there to make money. Whether through sign-up fees or advertisements, the commercial interests of those who own online dating websites may not always have the safety of users at heart. It’s important to have your wits about you and to choose your platform carefully as there may be nobody to police your activity but yourself.

RISE IN ONLINE DATING FRAUD

Telling a couple of lies about yourself seems harmless. Adding a couple of inches to your height or making your job seem more interesting can seem more like fun than fraud, especially if you’re not serious about who you’re talking to. But how much do you know about the other person? Could their lies be much worse than yours, taking you in and playing on your vulnerability?

In Canada, police have launched a new campaign to advise people on staying safe online, following an increase in cases of sexual assault and fraud. While this puts the responsibility back in the hands of the user, is there more than can be done to ensure safety from online dating providers?

BUILDING APP SAFETY

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Dating applications are becoming one of the most popular ways to enjoy online dating. Helping you to connect with people nearby, it’s an easy way to enjoy dating. But it can have its dangers.

Some app developers are fighting back against fraudsters. In the UK, for example, apps like TrueView have strict verification processes where users must connect to a variety of social accounts, pay a subscription, as well as using a scoring system to help people establish whether who they’re talking to is who they say they are.

There’s also the question of personal data. Apps and dating websites can offer guidance on how to avoid sharing personal details, but are they themselves safeguarding users against fraud? Adopting secure policies and checks such as API testing (see this tutorial from QASymphony for more info) can help an app developer to build a platform where safeguarding user data is given the biggest priority, helping users to feel safe when they venture into the world of online dating.

Despite the dangers that are associated with online dating, there are a lot of positives, too. Dating and hookup sites have been able to save lives through curbing the spread of HIV in a great example of how these sites can work well.

While it’s important that you as the user take charge of your safety when dating online, doing your research and using Websites that have your safety in mind can help make your experience a much safer and positive one – whatever you’re looking for on the Internet.

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