September 5, 2020
With technology at the tips of our fingers, the evolution into online dating comes with no surprise. Society already buys and works from online websites, why not date from them as well? Having access to instant satisfaction in any area of life seems to have become the norm. Therefore, online dating makes sense. Who wouldn’t want the stress taken off of going up to people and getting to know more about each other in person. Why would you go to the grocery store if you can order online and have same day delivery? Our brains have become wired and accustomed to this idea of instant gratification. Yet, with all the new dating apps that have been introduced, are any of them safe? The ability to control information displayed on your profile can help instill this safety and some apps, more than others, have built in safety features. But how safe can they be?
I’m sure you may have heard of a family member or friend using dating apps and maybe you even have one. However, not many people hear about the tragedies that have come from online dating. Most people don’t know that online dating has been linked to sex trafficking. No one expects to be messaging with a trafficker, but it happens. With instant access to location and other social media profiles tagged on dating profiles, almost everyone can find where you live to a mile radius.
“Offenders often exploit dating apps and websites to recruit – and later advertise – sex trafficking victims. In addition, offenders are increasingly recruiting labor trafficking victims through what appear to be legitimate job offers”, said the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
To put this into context of how serious of an issue this has become, over 1,000 sex trafficking victims were recruited using online services, mainly dating apps. However, with this type of communication and the way people have had success finding love, there comes a point in learning how to protect yourself. Yet, how can we protect ourselves and others from experiencing any dangers that could come with communicating through an app to strangers? It may be a simpler answer than expected: don’t share personal information after only one quick conversation. This information can range from addresses, phone numbers and work locations.
Each dating app was designed for a different purpose than the rest. For example, Tinder is mainly known as the hook up app around college campuses. In contrast, Bumble and Hinge are meant to be taken more seriously and can be used to find friends or a relationship. However this does not alter the motives of the outreach from the trafficking community. No matter where you are, it is impossible to ensure that when you use a dating app you will be in the clear from any dangers. Yet, there are ways to use these apps safely and efficiently.
It’s better to download the app that feels most fitting for what you are looking for. Regardless of which ones you may decide to use, there are ways to help navigate the apps safely and meet people without fear. One suggestion would be to not share any of your other social media accounts through the dating apps. On Tinder, Hinge and Bumble they suggest connecting your Instagram account to your dating profile. However, if you are a public account, this might not be the safest thing to do because this allows them to know more about you and where you are without even initiating a conversation. Also, don’t give your phone number out right away. Phone numbers can be tracked easily and locations can be pinpointed to the exact GPS location of where you are. It’s best to message with someone on the app for a week or so to better understand their intentions.
This is not to scare away those who choose to use dating apps, but is meant to be informative to ensure there is a populated knowledge on this serious matter of sex trafficking through dating apps; a danger that is rarely known or discussed. Sure, in the days of technology there are many dangers instilled from even owning a phone. Yet, being knowledgeable about them could save yourself, or someone else, from becoming another victim.
Jaclyn Krizanic is a senior studying Professional Writing and minoring in Graphic Design. Jaclyn plans to apply her knowledge and skill sets she has gained from her major into her current, future and professional work. Jaclyn loves to write poetry and inspires to publish a book of poems and short stories upon her graduation.