How Can We Make Online Dating Safer?


By Becca Caddy

Should dating sites screen their users in an attempt to avoid future incidents?

There was a time when online dating sites were only considered to be used by the most desperate of singletons, but in recent years Internet dating has become an extremely popular phenomenon, with 1 in 5 people in a recent survey admitting they’ve been on a date with someone in real life that they met online.

However, there’s always a worry that the person you’ve arranged to meet up with isn’t who they say they are, or they have a chequered past which could prove dangerous to anyone they go on to meet.

This is exactly what happened when a woman in the US was followed home and sexually assaulted after going on a date with a man she met through Match.com. According to Jezebel, the man had a history of sexual battery, which has since lead the woman to sue Match.com and call for thorough screening of all users.

A screening system could certainly protect some people from those with a history of violence or sexual offences and reduce the risk of the same incident happening again. However, there’s a chance that users would then be less vigilant when they go on dates in the future, which could be just as dangerous.

Most popular dating websites have a set of safety tips and guidelines, but ultimately it’s the individual’s responsibility to look after their own safety. The truth is, you’re always taking a risk when you meet someone you don’t know very well, whether you originally met them through a colleague, in a bar the night before or on an online dating site.

There are some great sources of tips, advice and anecdotes if you’re keen to stay safe when venturing into the world of online dating:

Match.com’s online safety advice

Lorraine Kelly’s guide to staying safe online

Online dating at the Guardian.co.uk

Image via Bill Ward's Brickpile's Flickr

POSTED IN: TECH
Tue, 19 Apr 2011 15:00 (GMT+01)
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