Tinder. Hapn. Grindr. So Syncd. Kinkd. eHarmony. Zoosk. Elite Singles… These days, there is a myriad of apps and websites for people who are searching for some casual fun, a meaningful relationship or something in between.
A decade ago, meeting a partner or date online was something a few people had started dabbling in, but now a third of Australians meet their match on the Matrix.
However, with so many of our population continuing to be appealed by online dating, we’re aware of the concerns arising from it. In some instances, digital dates can turn to danger, such as in the case of Angela Jay, who was stalked and stabbed by a man she met on Tinder. And, with 30% of Australian women reportedly having experienced some form of online harm or harassment, at JustSociale we encourage everyone to know their rights, responsibilities and how to protect themselves – because we are passionate about promoting the human rights of Australians online.
So, with that in mind, here are our top tips for meeting your match in an enjoyable, safe and successful way.
- If you join a dating platform, read their ‘rights charter’ or ‘user charter’ first. That way you’re clear on what is or isn’t permissible before you agree to them sharing your information and capturing your data.
- If you fancy someone, arrange a phone call, Facetime or similar with them first, if you want to have a ‘real’ chat and to make sure they are who they present themselves to be – before diving into that first date.
- If you have a date with someone you’ve met online, that’s great! However, we suggest you organise a backup plan (e.g. a friend to call you as a cover and excuse to excuse yourself, or a waiter or bartender to flag if your date goes downhill) so you can leave if things aren’t going too well.
- Don’t overshare information (such as your location & other direct contact details) too soon. What goes online stays online… forever.
- Be cautious when sharing your personal images, & ensure the recipient knows they don’t have consent to share them, unless you don’t mind if they do. Again, think about the potential for those images to stay online forever.
- Be kind. If you meet someone online & you don’t feel as attracted after that first swipe and initial conversation, tell someone genuinely and kindly that you aren’t interested. Ghosting isn’t cool, or kind – unless someone is harassing you. See the below tip on what to do in this situation.
- If you feel intimidated, harassed, abused or fearful after interacting with someone on a dating App, capture as much evidence as you can and report that person to the platform you’re on, and to the police. If you wish, and the police see your evidence of persistent contact, you may have grounds to take out an ADVO.
- Be aware of catfishing & deepfakes. Whilst we at JustSociale love the online world & social media, we also know that there are fake personas out there who might take advantage of you if you don’t do your dating homework. If someone doesn’t quite seem to be who they say they are, you can always try a quick Google image search to see if they are using generic photos, or a photo of someone else. If they don’t show up, that could be a good sign or a bad sign. Ask questions if you aren’t sure, to protect your online safety and presence before becoming further involved.