Online Dating Privacy Tips
Although the practice of meeting a new love through online dating has gained widespread acceptability, many people continue to engage in behaviors that put their digital privacy at risk. Online dating services are innovating to make the Web a safer place to find romance, but it still pays to shop around and select a service that both meets your needs and features strong privacy controls.
Learn the ground rules of online dating privacy tips.
This article on the reputation and privacy risks of online dating addresses online dating privacy in depth, but key points are worth emphasizing. Too many people treat online dating as they treat Facebook, but there’s a big difference between sharing personal information with friends and sharing it with potential romantic partners. Consider the following principles essential:
- Never share your full name, telephone number, address or place of work via the Internet.
- Aim to share information about your personality, goals and tastes without giving specifics that would allow someone to identify you.
- Never send money to someone you haven’t met. Besides, if a new suitor starts hitting you up for money, regardless of whether you met online or at the local bocce tournament, you’re most likely with a bad match.
- When meeting in person, arrange for your own transportation. Meet in a public place at a time when lots of people will be around.
- Don’t be afraid to say no if the person asks you for personal information that you’re not yet comfortable sharing.
- Avoid sending digital photos, which may contain metadata on where and when they were taken.
- Don’t use your regular email address. Instead, get a separate address just for that relationship.
- Avoid using the same user name that you use for other services because someone could use to track you down elsewhere.
- Wait a long time before “friending” your new suitor on Facebook. Access to your Facebook network provides an individual with detailed stores of personal information that can be misappropriated for online reputation attacks, identity theft or other violations of your digital privacy. As this MSNBC article suggests, you should wait until you have been dating for a few months, and then friend the individual using sensible privacy controls.
Choose a dating service based on its privacy settings.
All the big online dating services, including OkCupid, eHarmony, Match.com and Chemistry.com, feature similar privacy statements. They collect your personal information for the sake of matching you with someone. Third-party cookies included with apps may also track your interactions on dating websites. However, each of the major dating services competes to offer tools that enhance your online privacy while improving your chances of finding the right match.
- For instance, if you can’t fathom the idea of meeting a potential suitor without first talking to him or her on the phone, you might want to consider eHarmony. The company offers a feature designed to let people call each other securely and anonymously, without giving away their phone numbers.
If you want to have strong control over who has access to your profile, consider OkCupid. In early 2011 the service began rolling out a set of very specific filters, designed to address common issues. For example, gay people can block straight people from finding their profiles, or young women can block older men.
- As a third option, check out niche-specific dating sites, such as those for busy professionals or for people in certain industries or demographic groups. Beware of scams, however. Always research a service online before signing up, and look out for the telltale signs of online scams. These are just a few online dating privacy tips.
Consider going “old school” and taking your romantic quest offline.
Increasingly dissatisfied by the privacy risks and complications of online dating, large numbers of people are turning to the dating techniques of their parents or grandparents. Advice columnists regularly entreat lonely singles of the world to get involved in some activity or a cause that interests them, such as taking a cooking class, volunteering for a worthy cause, joining a book club or attending special events.
A new breed of minimalistic online services has cropped up to meet this need, offering nothing more than an RSVP service for people of like interests to arrange group meetings in public places. True, you’re less likely to be algorithmically and instantly paired with Mr. or Ms. Right, but you also sidestep the headache of having your digital privacy compromised. And because you’re meeting people with similar interests, whether or not you find love, you’ll probably make some new friends.
Regardless of which approach you choose, remember that online dating forms a very specific niche within social networking, with its own rules and etiquette. As long as you take into account these online dating privacy tips, play it safe and protect your privacy, you’ll find it’s not that hard to add some serious digital spice to your love life.
Clement Lefebvre is a seasoned writer with expertise in online reputation management and Internet privacy. He is also an experienced academic and scientific editor.