Don’t let this advice scare you off of dating apps!
- Always disable location-sharing features.
- Give a temporary phone number to your matches. You can use services like Phoner or Burner that give you temporary phone numbers that last a couple of weeks for free or for a small fee. Since they are temporary, it is hard to use such a phone number on your dating app account, but it could give you some time to meet your matches in real life before you trust them with your phone number.
- Try reverse image searching your match’s profile picture if something feels off. If your search finds the photo is from a modeling agency or a foreign celebrity, you are likely looking at a fake account.
- Avoid sharing specific information that could identify you. Eventually, you will have to share information about yourself. After all, you are trying to convince someone that you are interesting enough to meet. Try to talk more about your interests, ambitions, and preferences. More “I love pizza” than “My favorite pizza restaurant is on the corner of Main St. and 2nd Ave.” Never be afraid to say “no” if someone asks you for personal information that you’re not yet comfortable sharing.
- Avoid sending photos to people you do not know. Photos can contain metadata about when and where the photo was taken. If you must share a photo, be sure to remove its metadata first.
- Beware of chatting with bots. Online bots are getting harder and harder to detect, but one test you can try is to work gibberish into a phrase, like “I love a;lkjasdllkjf,” and see if the bot repeats the non-word or transitions into a non-sequitur question. (If it’s a human, you can always cover by saying your phone slipped.)
- If someone asks you over a dating app to send them money, your answer should always be “No” unless you want to show up on the next version of The Tinder Swindler.
- Do not immediately friend your matches on Facebook. Once someone has free online dating sites access to your Facebook account, they can see your friend and family network along with your past activity and location. Wait until you have been dating for a month or two before friending them. (Or, more ideally, quit Facebook.)
- Arrange to meet in a public area and let a friend know that you are going. You should also choose to meet in a neutral place, not the restaurant or cafe you go to every week.
They can be fun, and they’ve helped millions of people find dates, hookups, friends, and partners. Just try not to let Cupid’s arrow lull you into a false sense of security, and always keep in mind that this person who seems too good to be true just might be.
Prior to joining Proton, Richie spent several years working on tech solutions in the developing world. He joined the Proton team to advance the rights of online privacy and freedom.
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A report by Kaspersky in 2017 examined several dating apps, including Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid, and found that nearly all the Android versions of these apps stored sensitive data on the Android device without proper protection. Hackers could use Facebook authorization tokens to gain full access to your account. Once a hacker had this access, they could view all the messages sent and received through these dating devices.
- Don’t use your everyday email for your dating app or to contact new matches. Instead, use an alias or a private email just for that specific app or relationship.