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26 November 2021 | Podcasts | Article by Danielle Vincent

HJ Talks About Abuse: Safety On Dating Apps

Trigger Warning: Discussion of sexual assault

With social media used by most of us daily, how do we know who we are interacting with?

Shows like Channel 4’s The Circle have shown how you can portray yourself to be someone completely differently. Terms like ‘catfishing’ have become common terms.

But there is a very serious side to the ability to portray yourself to be someone else online.

Dating sites are another form of interaction online. The problem again with this is you are exchanging personal information with a stranger online, you are becoming trusting of such stranger.

There have been many exchanges of stories of turning up to dates with people who aren’t who they say they are. Netflix has just released the film Love Hard when the female turns up to her expected dates house to establish her date is not who he said he was.

The sinister side of this is the lured sense of security is the safety position. With increased reports of date rape drugging incidents, this leaves people open to sexual assault.

A report was commissioned by ProPublica in regards to safety on dating sites. See the full report here.

In 2018, there was a report by one individual who provided information to the investigation that  she reported to Bumble that a man she met through its popular online dating platform had sexually assaulted her. The company didn’t respond, she says. Two months later, after seeing his profile photo on the app again, she recalls the same report-no-response scenario playing out.

The investigation revealed the industry giant Match Group fails to screen for registered sex offenders on its free products — OkCupid, PlentyofFish and Tinder — despite doing so on its paid platforms. Our reporting has shown that some dating app users either received inadequate responses to their rape complaints or none at all.

The report found users reported their attack to the company but saw the user on the app again. Many more told us it never occurred to them to report an offline sexual assault to an online dating company. Or they didn’t realise a dating website could play a role in preventing such incidents.

Many of the apps do not complete criminal checks or whether someone is on the sex offenders register.

Further complications arise with identifying if an account is real. The question, like with all social media accounts such as facebook and Instagram is whether dating apps should be verified with the user having to include ID. At this time any one can set up a profile, with any information they want.

Cosmopolitan released a number of safety suggestions for online dating meet ups How to stay safe online dating | 15 women protect themselves when meeting someone from a dating app or site (cosmopolitan.com).

We encourage anyone who has comments or concerns relating to this subject, or about abuse in general, to get in touch with Alan Collins at [email protected] or Danielle Vincent at [email protected].

Want to listen to past episodes of the HJ Talks About Abuse Podcast?  
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Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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