As children, we were told to never meet up with strangers from the internet. Now as adults, it seems like the cool thing to do.
Online dating apps like Tinder and Bumble make it easy to form connections. You can let someone know you’re interested with the swipe of a thumb. Your dating pool grows from mutual friends to 60km around you. You can create a whole new persona on your profile. The latter is where things take a turn for the worst.
MTV’s Catfish launched in 2012, and follows a new person each week who has formed an online relationship without meeting who’s on the other side of their screen. It’s typically found that the other person was using stolen pics to attract the other, and ends in deception and heartbreak.
It may seem unlikely to have someone steal pictures for the sake of a dating app in London, ON, but the danger is still there. Recently a woman reported a sexual assault after meeting with a man she had met online. London Police arrested 28-year-old Adam Dabrowski in connection to the alleged assault, and he was charged with the following:
- Sexual assault;
- Overcome resistance by attempting to choke;
- Uttering threats of death or bodily harm; and
- Fail to comply with recognizance x 2.
Dabrowski was known to police for utilizing online dating sites and using multiple fronts to meet women. In February, he was charged with extortion after threatening to release private photos of a woman unless she performed sexual acts on him.
The police put out a warning against his profiles, but eight months later and he ended up on their radar again. So how can you stay safe when using dating apps? Tinder offers some tips:
Carlisa Bailey met her current boyfriend on a dating app, and echoes that safety should be your first priority when meeting someone from online for the first time.
“Always tell a friend where you’re going to be. Once you show up, text them the information about where you are and what he seems like. You definitely want to leave a paper trail of where you are.”
Bailey adds, that she would never have someone come to her home on an initial meeting out of fear that they could come back without an invitation.
But should your guard only be up in regard to meeting people from online? Bailey says the risk exists no matter where you meet someone.
“You never know someone’s intentions. Some people have bad intentions at the bar or at even at school. You shouldn’t give anyone the benefit of the doubt, you don’t always need a computer to hide behind.”
Western student, Cassandra Di Felice, says that she’s had her fair share of bad experiences from Tinder, and now refrains from its use, but agrees that safety is the most important thing.
“Being a woman in this day and age can be kind of terrifying. You never know whether you’re meeting a person online, or meeting in person, who they are or how safe you are.”
Di Felice says that her friends make use if the iPhone feature ‘Find My Friends’, so that they always know of each other’s whereabouts.
Safety isn’t always a priority for Tinder users, Jim Riley says that his friends use the app for fun more than anything. He isn’t active on the app, but says that his friends have used it to meet random people. When asked if they follow measures to ensure each other’s safety he said no.
“Usually it’s just them doing it themselves- going out on their own. If anything, they tell us about it after.”
Whether Tinder makes you nervous or makes you laugh, with an estimated 50 million users worldwide, it doesn’t seem like it will phase out anytime soon. Online dating can be a great way to meet new people- but always take precautions.