Privacy Tips for Dating Apps

Joining a dating app can be a tricky decision. While its always hard to put yourself out there, it can sometimes be even harder to add yet another kind of social media. With any kind of social media there is the risk not just of the app or service farming your data for $$, but also of harassment, doxing, potential repercussions from bad actors,  judgements from potential employers, and phishing scams. We dont want to be the Houdini or the Mystery man but we also want to keep ourselves safe. There is so much pressure to put our lives online, but the reality is that some folks are more vulnerable than others. 

This vulnerability can be compounded such that it seems like there is no good decision. If youre a woman who fears sexual harassment are you simply supposed to never exist in anything approximating a public eye? If youre a disabled person at risk for abuse are you supposed to live your life as a solitary person? Of course not, because that would mean being isolated and cut off from other people, and that is its own kind of harm.  

How then, can we keep ourselves safe(r) on dating apps?

[Alt. Text Description: A woman outside of the frame is holding a tablet with the dating app Badoo pulled up. She is eating toast with jam at a table]

[Image from]

Use privacy options to keep your profile private

Heres a rundown of various apps and how you can set your profile to private. When your profile is private it usually means that others cant see your profile unless you message or interact with them first. Obviously, you dont know if everyone you message is going to be a winner, but it can cut down on the number of people who have access to your data and photos. Having a private profile can also make you feel more comfortable sharing photos and other information on your profile that will make you stand out as an awesome potential date.

Dont link to other social media

Even if the link isnt apparent on your profile to others, if you link your other social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram) to your dating app, many times your pictures or other data will be imported. This data can then be matched back to your original social media profile. So, if youre trying to keep your social media just for friends and family, just dont link it at all. If you want to share some of the same photos, you can do so manually. In general, also try to use just your first name or a nickname to make yourself less traceable to other profiles you might have.

Use the built in messenger rather than texting

Most apps will advise you to use their in-built messenger rather than texting until you know the person can really be trusted (at least until after the first date). This helps to keep your phone number private, which will cut down on your risk of being scammed or harassed. If you absolutely must hop off-app to message try to use a messaging service like Telegram that keeps your information and telephone number private.

Try to use a dating app that hides your location

Obviously, we usually want to date folks who are in the same city or general location as us, but if an app gives out your specific location that can be a real risk, since we spend so much of our time at home or at work. Try to use apps that let you set a general location or who dont share your location at all and you can just say what city or part of the city you live in as part of your profile.

Be alert for phishing scams

[Alt. Text Description: black keyboard keys are scattered on a red wood background. Four keys are flipped letter side up to show the word SCAM]

[Image from]

So called romance scammers are prolific on all kinds of social media and dating apps. These folks are in it for the money, and will lie their pants off to steal what you have. Never send money to people online  (even if they say its for an emergency!), and watch out for common red flags that might prohibit your meeting in person, such as them working in the military overseas or on an oil rig. You can also do reverse image searches to see if their pictures pull up someone totally different than who they say they are.

Consider using a paid version of these apps

Many apps allow you to change settings, such as setting a generic location, or profile visibility only if you have a paid version. Paid apps are also less likely to sell your data to third parties. Yes, it costs a few bucks, but having the peace of mind can be worth it. 

Here at Mate Machine, we are committed to helping you find your perfect mate.

MateMachine is a Vancouver-based Technology start-up that has invented a unique secret crush search engine that can be used for connecting with the ones that we already know and have hidden feelings for. This happens through a unique and innovative search engine and is usable by anyone.

This work was supported by Mitacs through the Mitacs Business Strategy Internship.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *