Online Dating in 2020 – The Numbers, Risks and Safety Tips
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world in ways that could never have been imagined. The pandemic caused total and partial lockdown in several countries of the world, eventually causing global economies to take a hit.
Employees had to work from home, children were homeschooled and while this affected a lot of businesses such as hospitality and transportation, some industries, especially relating to IT saw their businesses boom. E-commerce, video conferencing, task management, and online dating platforms are examples of businesses that recorded a rise in revenue or customer engagements during the lockdown period.
Corona’s got nothing on Online Dating
With a lot of people stuck at home, away from their loved ones, and even socializing, online dating platforms became a go-to for many people looking to meet new people. Dating platforms are touted to change how conventional dating will progress once things return to normal.
With consumer expectations rising and a surge in activity, these platforms are beginning to improve their business models to see that they provide their customers with enough reasons to stay engaged and of course, increase their revenue.
Lockdown extends, Dating Platform Activity & Revenue Increases
Before the pandemic, online dating platforms were already a big thing – raking in millions of dollars in revenue yearly. Match Group, a conglomerate consisting of Plenty of Fish, OkCupid, Match, Tinder, and many other dating brands, reported a 15% increase in subscribers in their second-quarter report.
According to FactSet, Match has surpassed the expected income by 6% and as of July 2020, Tinder was on a revenue increase for the third straight month, accruing a 15% increase in direct revenue growth since 2016. All these numbers and more points to the fact that online dating is seeing more user engagement and subscriptions.
Risks associated with Online Dating
Despite the benefits that this form of socialization poses, there are serious known risks associated with online dating. The top three are sextortion, romance scams a compromised dating apps.
Victims of sextortion often find themselves in a romantic relationship with someone who isn’t who they claim they are. These relationships often grow deeper, up to the point where they share intimate pictures and even engage in “virtual sex” with their supposed lover using webcams or video calls. The supposed lover, having a premeditated motive, then uses these sensitive media to blackmail the victim to get some money out of them.
Quite similar to the aforementioned, the scammer, in this case, employs several means, tactics, and ploys into gaining the victim’s trust, under the guise of a relationship. The scammer, of course, uses a fake profile so that in the event where their cover is blown, there would be no way they can be traced. The “relationship” is mostly parasitic and the victim ends up spending a fortune in a bid to “support”, “help” or “take care” of their lover.
Compromised Dating Apps
Personal data is a big deal these days and loads of these can of course be gotten from dating platforms. Popular dating apps have been known to possess little security, exposing them to the possibility of being hacked and personal data carted away. In May 2020, Mobifriends was hacked, and subsequently, the threat actor put up personal details and login information of over 3 million users on this platform for sale on some popular hacking forums.
Safety Tips for Dating Platform Users
These threats are real, however, employing safe practices while using these websites will go a long way in ensuring you have a safe and seamless experience finding love online.
Follow these three tips:
1. Conduct Your Research
Although this might come off as creepy, it is however advisable to be safer than sorry. Before committing to anything serious, it wouldn’t hurt to make a Google search of your date’s name and see if anything other than social profiles come up. This can help filter out possible red flags that you may or may not have noticed in the course of your discussion with the person.
2. Use a VPN
To protect yourself from compromised applications or hackers that might exist on your network, it is advisable to download a VPN application on your device and use them when connecting to any dating platform. This would help mask your real IP address and protect your location details.
3. Keep your Personal Information Discreet
There are several temporary email services and phone number providers that can be used to set up dating accounts. You could use a Google Voice phone number and open a fresh Gmail account for public profiles. This is to prevent your personal information from getting leaked if the dating platform gets hacked in the future. Asides this, avoid revealing so many personal details to the person on the other end of the conversation until you are sure of the person’s identity.
Scary as all this sounds, you CAN and SHOULD still online date. Love it or hate it, with so many singles online you can’t afford to shun dating apps. Follow the guidelines in the article and you should be just fine. Don’t forget to background check your dates!