Victims, as well as perpetrators, hide crimes: Of course, sexual assaults related to online dating may be on the rise just because online dating itself is on the rise. The Pew Research Center found that between and the proportion of American adults using dating services tripled. In Britain, attacks related to online dating increased almost six-fold over roughly the same period.
If the US and UK are experiencing the same trends, then online dating is indeed becoming more dangerous. Then again, they may not be experiencing the same trends. However, it puts most of that down to increased reporting and better recording by the police. Better reporting, therefore, might also partly explain why internet dating assaults have increased in the UK. All the same, the NCA noted that the incidents had a lot in common. The online environment could also lull users into thinking they know someone, and therefore making themselves vulnerable.
To date, much of the research on online dating has been conducted by dating companies themselves. In Stephen Port was convicted in the UK of killing four young men he met on the gay dating app Grindr. In the UK, Match was also implicated in the case of serial rapist Jason Lawrence, who in was convicted of raping or assaulting seven women he met on the site, after contacting thousands.
Users are paying to be there. But he said there was more companies could do to protect users. For instance, he said, they could insist that a dating profile be linked to other social media as a form of identity verification. Some apps, including Tinder, already make this mandatory. Others, including Grindr, do not.
He also wrote to the two companies to express his concern. Tinder never replied to his letter, Leech told me, while Grindr replied saying that it has pages about safety on its website. The page is even harder to reach from within the app itself. Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, a UK-based non-profit, said that actual attacks are only part of the picture. Online dating is also the source for financial and other scams that cause emotional trauma.
So what are dating companies doing, and is it enough? Many dating apps offer advice somewhere on their websites on how to stay safe while online and offline. They say they block problem users and delete fake profiles. But when pressed, dating companies seem unwilling to talk about safety in much detail. One thing companies certainly can do is try to weed out users with bad intentions.
Users must be aged over 18 and have a Facebook account to join Tinder. The app has now integrated optional Instagram and Spotify features which display images and songs from a particular person's profile. Research has revealed that there are 50 million active users on Tinder who check their accounts 11 times per day and spend an average of 90 minutes per day on the app, reported Marie Claire.
The app is now available in countries around the world, and it is estimated to make up to hundreds of matches every second. What is Swipebuster and how can it expose cheats? A website Swipebuster claims it will help people see if their other half has a Tinder profile. If you pay the site a fiver with your credit card or on PayPal, it will search the depths of the popular app for a specific name, age and location.
The Sun Online tried it out for authenticity - but it only appeared to work in some cases. One woman launched into a foul-mouthed rant at a "ginger midget" when he cancelled their date. In a much happier tale, Ohio students Josh Avsec and Michelle Aendas who matched back in September are being sent on a dream date to Hawaii.
15 ways you can stay safe on Grindr and other dating apps
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