Love in a Digital Age: The Risks and Dangers of Online Dating

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Love in a Digital Age: The Risks and Dangers of Online Dating

It is undeniable that finding someone to date nowadays is a lot easier in comparison to previous generations. This phenomenon is not surprising seeing that just last year the dating app industry earned a whopping 4.94 billion dollars in revenue.

This statistic has two main effects. It incentivizes developers of popular dating apps to improve and maintain their dominance. It also encourages new competitors to enter the market.

While online dating is often the subject of memes, it’s clear that many people are genuinely looking for romantic connections through digital means. And while this is a respectable way of finding someone. There are alternatives like random video chat that may facilitate building a trustworthy connection before eventually deciding to be partners.

It is undeniable that websites where you get to meet new people are infested with many undesirable personalities, from disrespectful people to straight-up criminals.

We’ve written this blog so that you’ll know how to identify these kinds of people and what you can do to protect yourself from them.

blog infographic

What has and can happen

On November 10, 2014, a 12-year-old girl in the Baltimore suburb of Nottingham left for school. Hours later, she still hadn’t returned home. Her mother called the school, only to discover her daughter had never arrived. Alarmed, she immediately contacted the authorities for help.

After four days of investigation, the child was found with a 34-year-old man who was already on probation for assaulting a woman. After the child was rescued, she later revealed that her abductor had forced her to engage in sexual activities twice within the residences she was held captive at.

Investigators discovered that the abductor was one of the men the 12-year-old girl had been chatting with on a random online platform. While the conversations aided authorities in locating the girl, they also allowed the abductor to obtain her personal information.

This incident highlights the dangers of online dating/random chatting apps and websites. Many of these platforms advertise “anonymity” as a safety feature.

Examples of surface-level tracking are seen in popular Omegle ‘prank’ videos where people these pranksters use a program that tracks someone’s Internet Protocol (IP) Address. Or the format of the data sent by a device into a local area network or the internet.

In other words, IP address broadcasts where you are simply because you are using the internet (or a local network), and while watching these reveals happen on camera is amusing. Its applications go deeper and CAN do more damage than making you freak out when someone knows where you live.

Another tactic commonly used by those with malicious intent is emotional manipulation. This involves feigning a quick connection to gain your trust. Once trust is established, they may try to extract something from you, such as your home address.

With these in mind plus the reach and how easy it is for anyone to use the internet, it is easy to see the threat these people pose to the online community. 

Those who benefit from the act

A. Catfishers/Catfishing

image of a man with hidden face and wearing a hoodie signifying a catfisher

Posers, impostors, catfishers… an average of 20,000 individuals get catfished per year in America alone. This is a shocking statistic, especially since so many people are now aware of the phenomenon. Some 20% of men even admit to having been fooled five times! But what exactly are catfishers?

These are people who personal information from someone and pose as that person to achieve a variety of goals. At the surface level these people may just be pulling a prank.

However it can go as deep as someone posing so that they can trick you into doing something they want. Which is either asking you for nude photos, extracting money from you, or getting you to meet with them in person. 

B. Scammers 

showing hands holding money indicating scammers

Scamming was mentioned above. And while catfishing can be used to scam people, scammers in general do not need to steal as much information as catfishers nor are they required to steal at all, except your money of course.

Scammers specialize mostly in human engineering or in the “art” of persuading someone to open their pockets for them. And while their tactics mostly stay the same with the catfishers, these people are mainly going to go after your money. 

FTC.gov reports a staggering $1.3 billion lost to scammers. This highlights how scammers are constantly evolving their tactics. Always remain vigilant to protect yourself.

C. Predators and Criminals 

gloved hand typing on laptop keyboard indicating online predator and criminal

Because of how easy it is to get into the internet, Predators and Criminals have been utilizing it for their gain as well. We are specifically talking about people who want to harm someone in some way simply because they want to do it.

Sadly, these are also the ones most common in random chatting and online dating platforms. But fear not. While it is nearly impossible to control everyone that goes into these apps and websites (yes, EC included).

There are precautions that you can take to avoid these people and how you can handle them if they ever cross paths with you. Right here! 😉.

Conclusion

While authorities have done their best to counteract the individuals highlighted in this blog post, as long as they exist, the internet will not be a 100% safe place for anyone. But with this blog post, we hope we’ve shed some light on who these individuals are, their traits, tendencies, and goals, and what they do.

As a final note, true safety begins with you. By taking precautions and learning how to handle potentially dangerous situations, you’ll start to see positive results. We hope you found this blog post helpful and if you can, please share this post to help spread awareness. Until next time, goodbye and stay safe!



References:

  1. https://www.businessofapps.com/data/dating-app-market/
  2. https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/11/12-year-olds-online-life-brings-an-abductor-to-her-doorstep/
  3. https://www.kaspersky.com/resource-center/definitions/what-is-an-ip-address
  4. https://legaljobs.io/blog/catfishing-statistics/
  5. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/data-visualizations/data-spotlight/2023/02/romance-scammers-favorite-lies-exposed

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