While online dating presented privacy issues when it first became popular, dating apps throw up a whole new set of problems.
The biggest obstacle is that dating apps rely heavily on personal information and will look to link into your social profiles into order to pilfer as much detail about you as possible.
There’s no denying that now more than ever, privacy is a hot topic, in fact, recent research from Choosi found that 85.8% of people are concerned about online security.
Unfortunately, even though people are concerned about their privacy, most users don’t do anything about protecting their personal details. But failing to protect your privacy could result in more than a broken heart.
Sherry Davies-Selak, online safety educator shares her top six “Do’s and Don’ts” to protect your privacy when using dating apps.
DO: Tighten Your Privacy Settings with Facebook
Many of the most popular dating platforms i.e. Tinder and Bumble require your Facebook profile in order to sign up. Well, there are ways you can safeguard your social profile so that the app doesn’t have access to all your details.
First up, alter your settings on Facebook so your profile is as private as possible. When you update your privacy settings remember to also limit privacy on past posts, many people forget this step when updating their settings.
Next stop, prevent the app from accessing your profile. This can be done in ‘Privacy Shortcuts.’ Select ‘see more settings’ and then choose your app and select ‘Only Me’ under ‘App Visibility.’
If you’re particularly concerned about privacy then it’s recommended you set up a second Facebook account and link this profile to your dating apps.
Create the second profile under a nickname so people on the dating app won’t be able to search you on Facebook.
DON’T: Include Too Much Personal Information
When it comes to staying safe online it’s certainly a case of “less is more.” It pays to be smart about the kind of information you display.
Research has found that 54% of people are careful about posting personal information on social media – where they live, when they’re going on holiday and what their interests are.
So, it’s clear that we’ve already got a healthy dose of scepticism in regards to over-sharing. Don’t include specific info such as your date of birth, phone number, email address or place of work – and instead opt for general details, this will make it harder for people to track you online.
DO: Go Incognito
If you’re wanting to sort through potential partners without being bothered by potential pests then incognito mode is about to become your best friend.
Several apps, including OKCupid Dating, offer incognito mode as an option, meaning people can’t see your profile unless you’ve contacted them.
It also ensures you don’t come up in searches and people won’t know you’re on the platform unless you make yourself known.
It’s a smart idea and one that seems obvious but considering that research from Choosi found that only 17% of people use the internet in safe browsing mode, it’s clear that we’re not used to going undercover just yet.
DON’T: Reveal Your Exact Location
Much of the dating app phenomena can be traced back to the fact that these apps are able to find ‘matches’ within your area.
This is a result of the apps downloading information from the GPS in your phone and cross referencing it with users close by.
But rather than set your distance range to just around the suburb that you live in, increase the distance to at least 20km outside your suburb. It’s also worth considering the content of photos you’re uploading, try to avoid any snaps that show off your street name, apartment or house number.
DO: Upload Different Photos
We live in an age of digital detectives and it’s a safe bet that someone you connect with online will do some digging and try to find your social media profiles.
This leaves you open to cross contamination – a person you’re chatting to on Tinder could then add you as a friend on Facebook – hardly ideal.
A good way of getting around this is by using different photos for each of your platforms. From Facebook to Instagram, Twitter to Tinder, pick a unique profile pic for each, making it harder for people to spot a familiar face.
DON’T: Let a Date Pick You Up or Take You Home
This has been a golden rule since the dawn of online dating but it remains one of the most crucial ways to protect your privacy and ensure your safety.
First meetings should be done somewhere public and visible, preferably with other people around. Never agree to a date that asks to pick you up from home.
It’s also important that you tell a friend or family member where you’re going and with whom, this way someone is aware of your whereabouts while you’re out.
Finally, initial date chat can cover a lot of different topics – work, holidays, friends – but one thing you shouldn’t reveal is where you live.