Navigating the current dating landscape can be perplexing; it’s filled with apps, websites, catfishing, and lurking stalkers. While pre-Tinder dating had its challenges, it sure seemed to be less intricate.
Complicating matters is the heightened uncertainty about the identity of your virtual conversational partner, and the disconcerting possibility of digital stalking.
In fact, we recently commissioned a report on digital stalking to ascertain the reality of these risks and concerns. We engaged with over 21,000 participants to cast light on the alarming prevalence of digital abuse experienced by those in pursuit of love.
Revelations from the survey
As per our survey findings, 34% of respondents believe that googling or checking social media accounts of someone they’ve just started dating is a form of “due diligence”. While seemingly harmless, 23% reported encountering some form of online stalking from a new romantic interest, suggesting that some individuals may take a swift Google search a bit too far.
Furthermore, and somewhat alarmingly, over 90% of respondents expressed a willingness to share or consider sharing passwords that grant access to their location. While seemingly innocuous on the surface, there can loom there specter of stalkerware: silent software capable of continuously tracking user whereabouts and spying on messages.
How to protect yourself? Tips from the experts
We’ve compiled advice from leading online security, dating, and safety experts to help you navigate the waters of love safely this Valentine’s Day!
Enhanced password safety measures
- Create complex passwords using a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Never reuse passwords across different sites and apps; keep them private.
- Use two-factor authentication for an added layer of security.
- Change your password immediately if you’ve shared it with someone you’ve been dating but are no longer in touch with.
- Use a password manager to keep all your passwords strong and safe.
Proactive verification techniques of online dating profiles
- Run a reverse-image search for that profile; if it appears on multiple pages under various names, it’s likely a catfisher.
- Look for inconsistencies in daters’ stories and profile details.
- Be wary of sudden, intense expressions of love, or requests for money.
- Use video calls to verify a dater’s identity before meeting in person.
Maximizing online dating profile security:
- Conduct your own privacy audit of your social media accounts to understand what’s publicly visible.
- Customize your privacy settings to control who can see your posts and personal information.
- Regularly review your friends/followers list to ensure you know who has access to your information.
Strategic sharing guidelines:
- Avoid posting details that could disclose your location, workplace, or routines.
- Think twice before sharing emotionally charged or intimate content.
- Be mindful of metadata or other identifiable clues in photos (like geotags) that can reveal your identity, location, or details you’d rather keep private.
- Set personal boundaries on the type of information you share early on in a relationship; only reveal personal details gradually as trust builds over time.
- Listen to your instincts – if something feels off, take a step back and give yourself a moment.
- Consider how the data you share could be used to piece together a profile or compromise your physical safety.
Comprehensive safety plan for offline meetings:
- Choose well-lit, public places for initial meetings.
- Avoid sharing or displaying personal items that might reveal your address or sensitive information.
- Arrange your own transportation to and from the meeting place.
- Have a check-in system with a friend or family member.
As we embrace the possibilities for romance and connection in the digital age, let’s not forget the importance of our safety and wellbeing. By implementing these strategies, you can confidently explore the world of online dating while safeguarding both your digital and physical self. For more details, please take a look at our safe dating guide. And our premium security solution with identity protection and privacy features can help you keep calm and carry on… dating!