In recent years, approaching a stranger at a bar and offering to buy them a drink in the hopes it may lead to more, has been replaced with online dating, with apps such as Tinder is regarded as one of the most popular dating apps. Over 66 million people use Tinder across 190 different countries, making it a recognisable dating app worldwide.
The Tinder app allows users to view selected photographs of potential matches; a user swipes either left or right, with the aim to match with someone who also swipes right for the user in return. The platform is designed for dating but also for general socialising and encourages people to utilise the app in order to meet people that they don’t know and wouldn’t normally meet. Although there are a number of reported marriages that arise out of Tinder matches, the app has gained a reputation as a ‘hook-up app’, with many users looking for a superficial or sexual encounter.
The Hidden Danger: Is Tinder Safe to Use?
Whilst online dating is becoming more and more popular, there remains a large number of potential risks and hidden dangers in utilising apps such as Tinder. At Internet Removals, we commonly deal with unexpected consequences that people face as a result of using Tinder and other online dating apps.
The following list outlines some of the hidden dangers and risks involved in using online dating apps:
1. Your personal information becomes public
Dating apps are often linked to Facebook profiles or other social media, which can mean this information becomes exposed to people online. Users of Tinder are aiming to meet people in close proximity to them, meaning that a user’s personal information, such as their name, age and location, are displayed to the public. The user’s photos are also on display, and many people link their social media accounts and display other identifying information such as their school or university.
2. You don’t truly know who the other user is
There is a lack of proper verification processes on dating apps, so anyone has the potential to create a fake account, and many people do so in an attempt to gain information from another person, which they may use in threats or blackmail. Sadly, it is common for predators to look for individuals, particularly teenagers and young adults.
3. Sending sexual images
This is very common amongst users of Tinder and dating apps, and unfortunately, Internet Removals often sees people become victims of revenge porn or image-based abuse, meaning their private images and videos are posted publicly on Google and other platforms. It is also important to note that your photographs may reveal your exact location. Users may also be blackmailed for money to prevent the other user from posting such photos of them online or sending them to their workplace or friends and family.
4. Scammers frequently use Tinder
This may be to scam money from someone or to offer shady links for a user to click on, which can then swindle the individual to provide further personal information and even credit card information.
5. Meeting strangers in person can be dangerous
Engaging in these apps often leads to in-person meetups, which can be dangerous, especially as anyone can make a profile and lie about their details.
6. Cyber abuse and online grooming.
True Story of Tinder Extortion
The best way to highlight how these points above can be truly dangerous is to demonstrate this through a case study.
Internet Removals (an online reputation management agency in Australia) was contacted by a client, Emily* (*pseudonym used). Emily had been swiping through Tinder and came across a male whom she found attractive. The pair matched, and within minutes Emily’s match reached out to her and introduced himself as Andrew* (*pseudonym used). After a few days of constant chatting, Emily had learned about Andrew’s hobbies and interests, and the two had even shared stories about their friends and family. They were determined to meet up in person, but Andrew said he was away for work and would be back in a few weeks. Andrew was very flirtatious and asked Emily to send him some sexy photos before they met up, which she did, as she felt the pair were becoming very close.
One evening, Emily noticed that Andrew’s behaviour was different. He had become cold in the chat and was hardly replying to her. Suddenly, Andrew sent Emily a nude photograph of herself that she had shared in the chat with him previously. Andrew told Emily that if she did not send him money, he was going to release her photographs online. Emily refused to send Andrew any money, and subsequently, her images were posted publicly online across a variety of different sites with nasty captions exposing Emily’s personal information.
Internet Removals is commonly engaged by victims who have spoken to someone online via Tinder or another dating app, who share personal details and/or photographs and are then subjected to threats. In many cases, the person the victim matched with is not who they say they are, and in fact, it is a fake profile designed to fish information from the victim. It is common for sexual images to be posted online as revenge porn in an attempt to humiliate or blackmail the victim, and Internet Removals works hard to get this content removed on websites and Google.
In Emily’s case, Andrew had enough personal information about her to threaten to send the photos to her friends and family as well as her university and workplace. His doings will damage Emily’s personal reputation online. This caused significant stress for Emily, as it would for anyone who is subjected to such threats and blackmail.
How can you protect yourself and recover your online reputation?
If you use dating apps, then there are steps you can and should take to protect yourself and prevent the hidden dangers and risks outlined above. For starters, share minimal personal information, and never reveal identifying information, addresses or credit card or bank details. Never share sexual or racy images or videos with someone online, as you do not know what will happen to those images and may end up a victim of revenge porn. You can also report accounts that seem to be fishing for information. Furthermore, if you do intend to meet up with someone, make sure you have another person with you to ensure your safety.
If you think you have been a victim of revenge porn, a fake tinder account or fishing, which has resulted in your personal information or photographs being leaked online, you can contact us at Internet Removals to discuss your concerns.
We may be able to assist you with:
- Identifying content on a variety of online platforms;
- Applications for removal of online content;
- Online Reputation Management.
We can be contacted by either phoning 1300 039 196 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: There is no obligation in contacting Internet Removals for advice relating to online defamatory content and our services with removal. Internet Removals is not providing any legal advice. If legal advice is recommended or required, Internet Removals can refer you to IRG Law Pty Ltd. You should not rely upon the contents of this newsletter for any litigation, decision to litigate or decision to publish material online.