SEXtember: Using Tinder safely
IT’S the dating app that everyone seems to be on, though few want to admit they’re on. As much fun as it may be, it’s important to put your safety first. Marina Solomon offers some essential tips.
For the uninitiated, Tinder is a dating app that allows you to connect with people in your area, or if you’re wanting to venture out, people in your state.
To begin, the app connects to your Facebook account, where you can choose your favourite photos to display. And again through Facebook, GPS is used to locate your geographical location. Once you’ve set up your preferences for age and location, you can start using the app. Tinder pools together people far and wide, including friends and mutual friends.
For me, my first foray into the world of Tinder felt a little awkward and embarrassing. My initial thoughts were, “Oh I don’t want my friends to know I’m on here.” Until, of course, it dawns on you that your friends are on there too.
There’s also no denying that receiving the first few matches does give your ego a bit of a boost.
It’s worth remembering however, that this world of opportunity to meet just about anyone and everyone, also exposes you to safety risks.
It’s easy when talking to somebody on Tinder to forget that you don’t know him or her, and although the prospect of meeting up face to face may sound like a lot of fun, it’s important to remember that they are still a stranger – no matter how many genuine Facebook pictures they have attached to their profile.
Here are a couple of tips to stay safe on Tinder if you’re planning a meet-up:
Skype before you meet
Skyping before you meet is not so much about making sure they are as attractive as their photo suggests. The purpose should be to verify he/she is who they say they are, help you develop a ‘sense’ of the other person, and give you more confidence about your budding friendship/relationship. Sounds dramatic, but you don’t want to be at risk of being lured into a compromising situation.
Always meet in a public space
Just because you’ve had a Skype date doesn’t mean it’s safe to now meet in private. Meeting in a public space can help you stay safe when meeting a new Tinder buddy. Never meet at his or her apartment, even meeting at your own apartment is a bad idea. Meeting in a public space allows you to be safe and allows you to make a hasty getaway should the situation turn hairy.
Inform family or friends of your whereabouts
It’s always best to let a family member or a close friend know that you’re going to meet a Tinder date. Give them the date, time and place of where you’re heading in case of an emergency. Text someone when you arrive, or even pindrop your location as soon as you get there, and perhaps even send a text midway to reassure someone things are going well and you’re safe.
Keep your information private
You’ll often find “Where are you from?” is quite a common question asked on Tinder. Don’t give out too much information about yourself. At the first instance, the safest option is to inform them you don’t like to give out your information to strangers. This should include withholding your location, phone number and other personal details – until you’re very confident the other person is someone you can trust. Be careful with your Facebook profile, as Tinder is connected directly from Facebook, and after setting up the app, it might be a good idea to ensure your information is set to private and turn off location services that allow strangers to see where you are or where you’ve been.
Do not get into a car with stranger
Do organise your own transport when meeting for the first time. Never get in the car with a stranger and never offer them a ride to and from. Getting into the car with a stranger can be dangerous and isn’t worth the risk. Even if you take a taxi to and from your location, do not share the taxi with your Tinder date, especially on the way home.
Beware of fake profiles
People often create fake Facebook accounts or pretend to be a celebrity – so don’t be fooled! If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and more often than not, they aren’t who they say they are. It was also recently found that stolen images of women and fake Tinder profiles have been used to lure Tinder users into clicking onto suspicious websites – unsuspecting users are matched with a fake profile, and a bot (computer) attempts to get you to click on a link. If you come across these kind of profiles, firstly do not click on the link, or if you do accidentally, do not give your information away to the website. On top of that, make sure to report the Tinder profile so Tinder can deal with the issue and have them removed.
Carry protection with you and make sure it’s consensual
Finally, if you feel you’re going to “give it up” after meeting with your Tinder date a couple of times, make sure to carry protection with you. Don’t rely on the other person to bring the protection, and don’t take the risk. Lastly, make sure you’re both ready for this and that you’re on the same page, it’s important to feel and be safe at the same time.
Real world dating
On a last note, it may be worth saying that while Tinder may be fun and exciting, and if anything else, a great way to make new friends, nothing beats the thrill of meeting new people in real life.
Expand your social networks by attending events, volunteering, getting involved in clubs and societies that interest you – they’re all great ways of meeting like-minded people.
For more information on how to stay safe online, Stay Smart Online is a good resource to check out. What have your experiences been on Tinder? Share with us in the comments section below.