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The Safe Use of Dating Apps - What to look out for when using them!

The Safe Use of Dating Apps
What to look out for when using them!

These days, tablets and smartphones are an essential aspect of everyone's daily life. Many online dating providers have also realised this. Newer apps in the field of dating and love are revealed every day in the online apps stores.

With just one or two taps, a new dating app is downloaded quickly and ready for use. However, few people seem to think about the effects that using such an app can have when it comes to data protection and security. We’ve learned that most dating app users are entirely unaware of this. As a result, we would like to share a few safety tips with you in order to ensure that your dating experience doesn’t award you with a nasty surprise.

Below we’ve detailed a "worst case scenario":

Jan and Dating Apps

Jan’s interested in meeting someone new and has recently heard from his friends that dating app XYZ is great for meeting women. All he does is login to the app store on his smartphone and finds the dating app quickly before installing it. Logging in is instantaneous because he uses Facebook to do it.

Not long after, Jan receives a few strange flyers in the post and gets weird adverts on his Facebook profile. A lot of them are focused on his locality, some of whom also have something to do with the company he works at. Over Facebook, a friend of Jan’s asks why he was sent a message with a link to a diet program. Understandably, the friend is a bit annoyed. Jan had no idea about the message up until that point.

What Jan didn’t pay attention to was that, when downloading the dating app, there were “access permissions”. With a single click, Jan gave the app permission to access his location as well as social network. The app was able to form a frighteningly detailed map of were Jan has been, as well as determine where he works and what gym he normally goes to. The app is also quite aware of Jan’s hobbies.

Using the data given, as well as personal entries (including first and last name, telephone number, address etc.) the app is able to do quite a lot, such as selling information to third parties.

Dating Apps: All About Access Permissions

Recently, we conducted a test of the 13 most popular Android dating apps in Australia. During our review, we found that 75% of these apps (among them Lovoo, Badoo and Tinder), were able to access photos, media and other data on your smartphone. This is information that you probably wouldn’t just show to any random stranger on the street. If you’d like to see the detailed results of our dating app analysis, take a look here: The results of this analysis can also be read hear.

Handy Advice Before Installing a Dating App…

  • It’s best to download apps that come from trusted sources. Good examples include Google Playstore and iTunes (suppliers of Android and iOS apps respectively).
  • Before deciding to install the dating app, make sure to look precisely at all access permissions that are required. Determine whether or not it is really worthwhile downloading this app and allowing it to have access to storage, contacts, messages and more. Perhaps you can find a safer alternative?
  • Trust your instincts. Has the app been given a rating on the Google Playstore? If not, wait about a week or two before you download it.
  • There is always a rule when it comes to dating apps: at first there is quite a lot of activity after the app is first published.
  • Make sure you have a virus scanner on your smartphone. Just like a computer, security apps will be sure to scan everything before installing the app.

What to be Aware of When Registering for Dating apps

  • Should the dating app only offer the possibility of registration through Twitter or Facebook, make sure to see if there is a desktop version of the provider. Dating platforms (usually) offer alternative options to sign up via email. If this isn’t the case (i.e. like Tinder) then consider simply making a Facebook profile only for dating.
  • Switch off the GPS function and make sure you activate it only while using the dating app (the same goes for all other GPS-based apps).
  • Use numerous passwords for both your dating apps and other online services in order to minimise phishing risks. Create a password that’s easy to remember (ones done through memory aids are the best). As an example, use this sentence: Try to Safely Online Dating. Shorten it to beginning initials: TTSOD. In order to strengthen the password, add something else to it such as a number (perhaps the year or the month that you registered with the dating app). With 20TTSOD16, you have created your password.
  • Be a bit more hesitant when handing over any personal dating during dating app registration. Should you meet someone interesting, there are other ways to get to know them better.
  • Deactivating your "automatic update" function on every app helps as well. You’ll have control over any new access permissions that the app asks you for when the next update materialises.

Found new love – what happens to the app?

  • For those who have signed up for premium memberships on the dating app, it is vital that you read the terms and conditions BEFORE you decide to uninstall it. Deleting the app will not automatically cancel your payment.
  • If you stop using the app (for example, you’ve met someone you’re quite happy with) then make sure that you deactivate your profile BEFORE deleting the app.
  • REMEMBER – if you signed up via Facebook – delete access permissions on Facebook also!

Removing Apps from Facebook

Login to Facebook using your details. Click the top right corner of the small triangles and then choose "Settings".

Facebook settings
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A new page will then open. Simply click on "Apps".

Facebook apps
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Now you’ll find every app that has access to your Facebook profile listed.

Facebook app list
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By simply clicking on the app you want to get rid of, a pop-up will appear showing you all of the access permissions that the dating app has.

Facebook app access
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An important point to mention here is app visibility. Using this, you can decide which group of people on Facebook can see you using the app. The best option is "Only Me".

With this list, you ca then view all the data the dating app has "taken" from your Facebook account. To withdraw the app’s access to your Facebook, all you have to do is click on the "X" next to the application’s name. By clicking remove, you get rid of all the access permissions.

Facebook app delete
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After getting rid of the app, no more new information can be taken from your Facebook profile. There is no guarantee about previous information you gave before, however, as it may still be used by the app at least internally. It is completely dependent on the provider.

After looking at our advice and security tips, don’t let it put you off online dating! It’s still possibly to safely and securely flirt without having to give away too much information. What singles just need to remember is to use a bit of caution when meeting others via dating apps.

Henning Wiechers
has been observing the Australian Online Dating market since 2010. He is among the top opinion leaders in the industry.

Any questions or suggestions?
Contact him!

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Who wrote that?

Henning Wiechers
has been observing the Australian Online Dating market since 2010. He is among the top opinion leaders in the industry.

Any questions or suggestions?
Contact him!

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