We know dating isn’t all heart emojis and chocolates. There are real risks along with the rewards. Personal safety is one of those risks, whether you meet on a dating app or in person.
Dating apps and websites are a convenient way to meet new people, particularly as we live through COVID-19 restrictions, but as the Cleveland Clinic partner site Verywell says: ‘interacting with strangers online can put you at risk for identity theft, online harassment, stalking, digital dating abuse, catfishing, and other scams. And, if you do decide to meet up ‘in real life’ (IRL) with someone you met online, there also is the chance that you could find yourself in physical danger as well.’
Verywell also reports: ‘… in the age of the Internet, technology is quickly becoming the weapon of choice for some abusive partners. In fact, many abuse prevention advocates are reporting a significant increase in the number of teen girls describing digital dating abuse in their relationships.’
Verywell says ‘while you are never to blame if someone behaves in a predatory or disrespectful way toward you in the online dating world, there are things you can do to stay safe.’ Follow their excellent safety tips for online dating:
- Review the built-in safety features of the dating app you choose. Are they listed on the sign up page? Safety guidelines should be easy to find.
- Check out the reporting and blocking features. Make sure you can report the behaviour of “people that either creep you out or are just downright toxic” and block them from contacting you. How does the app provide these features? If they don’t provide reporting or blocking features, choose a different app.
- Determine the level of visibility the app gives you. Are you able to control the visibility of your profile? Ideally, you want an app that allows more ways to secure your profile. The less you have, the more exposed your information is on the Internet.
- Avoid dating sites and apps that allow messaging before matching. It is best to select an app that requires both people to have an interest before messaging can occur. This reduces the number of unwanted messages you get and limits it to only the people you want to be communicating with.
- Check the geography settings. The app might use your location to allow you to find possible matches. Check what control you have over this setting. It is never a good idea to use an app that allows complete strangers to find your location.
- Look for free trials and free versions. Check you’re happy with the app before signing up for the paid version. You can still meet people with the free version.
- Reconsider apps that link to social media. Think of how much personal information you reveal on your social media, including photos of family and children. If you link your dating profile to your socials, be aware of how much information you’re revealing. At Anonyome Labs we believe logging in with Facebook, Google and other social login options is never a good idea.
- Use a unique photo. If you use the same photo you use on your socials, it’s easy for someone to do a reverse image search with Google and find you.
- Leave out your personal details. Do not use personal information on your dating profile. Don’t use your last name, contact information, nicknames, and social media handles. Consider also tightening the security on your social media accounts.
- Stay inside the app. Message new contacts inside the app so you don’t have to give out your personal phone number. MySudo helps enormously with the problem of keeping your personal phone number private. We’ll tell you more later in the article, but check this out.
- Set up a Google phone number. Or, we’d say, use the private phone numbers in the MySudo app instead because you’ll get heaps of other privacy and safety features too.
- Be careful when meeting in real life. Don’t tell the new contact where you live. Meet somewhere public and take your own transport. Tell a close friend or family member where you will be and when you will be home. Verywell says: ‘On the date, stay aware and alert. Do not leave your drink unattended and keep the first few dates short. You may even want to bring a self-defense tool with you such as pepper spray or a high-powered flashlight. And, if the person you are meeting is making you uncomfortable or scared, enlist the help of a friend in leaving the situation. Remember, you should never feel bad about putting your safety first. Even if you have to do something rude to escape a situation, you need to make sure you are safe.’
Verywell also advises:
- Never share your passwords with anyone.
- Be careful about checking in at different locations because it makes it easy for people to locate you and stalk you.
- Ask for permission before checking in or tagging your friends in photos because they may want to keep their location private.
- Don’t send anything private electronically. Once you hit send, you lose control of any electronic message or photo.
- Do not hand your phone over to anyone including your dating partner. Your phone is private property and you do not have to share it.
- Know your privacy settings and make sure your electronic devices, online accounts and social media accounts are as secure as possible.
- Remember you have the right to feel safe and respected in a relationship.
Now, let’s talk about how MySudo can help you to follow Verywell’s safety advice.
MySudo is the world’s only all-in-one privacy solution. It is based on using real, alternative identities or ‘profiles’ instead of your personal information, like phone number and email address. It’s a powerful data privacy tool that offers a long list of benefits . One of those benefits is personal safety when meeting new people.
On hearing this, you might say: Why would I want to use a different identity when I meet someone new? Isn’t that dishonest? A bit murky even?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: As you’ve just read, dating can be risky. In fact, the National Domestic Violence Hotline reports, ‘On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States—more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.’
Using a Sudo identity or profile when you do anything online or offline is a sensible privacy and personal safety strategy that puts you in control of your personal information until you feel ready to share more.
Sudo identities or profiles are real, alternative identities. They act like a shield or ‘stunt double’ for you when you date (or do anything else) online.
You can set up a ‘Dating Sudo’ (and up to 8 other Sudos) in the MySudo app.
Each Sudo gives you a handle, an alternative email address and account, a private browser so you can look at dating sites totally ad and tracker free and hide your IP address, and the option to add a virtual card which is linked to your credit card or bank account but leaves none of your personal details online when you pay. You can also add a working phone number to your Sudos by subscribing to a monthly plan.
You choose the phone number and email address you’ll use for your ‘Dating Sudo’ and you use those Sudo details when interacting with new people. You never have to use your own private details until you feel you want to. In fact, we don’t even ask for a username or password when you set up MySudo.
Now, with your ‘Dating Sudo’ you can connect without the security concerns, and stay private as long as youlike. Use your ‘Dating Sudo’ to privately and securely:
- Search for dating sites and apps using the private browser, totally ad and tracker free.
- Open accounts on dating sites and apps.
- Create your dating profile.
- Receive notifications from the app.
- Call, message and email your ‘matches’ and receive calls, messages and emails from them.
Watch this short video on dating with MySudo.
A note from Anonyome Labs
At Anonyome Labs, we take the protection of user data seriously. We empower people to be able to determine what information they share, and how, when and with whom they share it. We provide victims and potential victims of harassment, violence and abuse, real and effective tools for protecting their personal information.
Through our privacy and cyber safety application, MySudo, we help people to keep their personally identifiable information private. MySudo enables people to communicate and interact with third party services or other people without using their personal phone number, email address, credit card etc., which mitigates the risk of that information being used for tracking or stalking. Find out more.