How Online Stalkers May Use Dating Apps to Harass Victims

More than ever before, we have become reliant on technology to connect us with others, especially when it comes to forming relationships. Since the popularization of online dating in the early ’90s, meeting potential partners on the internet has become a well-established means of matchmaking. Today, modern singles have a variety of dating apps at their fingertips that can help them form a new romantic connection within moments.

Online dating isn’t all swiping right and sending messages. As our dependency on the internet has grown, so too has the frequency of online misconduct. Many victims have experienced severe harassment and threats through dating applications. The rise in online stalking is a serious threat to the safety of internet users, since stalkers can use dating apps to hurt their victims.

Virtual Harassment

You might share information about yourself online in an effort to build a connection with friends and loved ones, but online stalkers can easily use this information against you. For example, if someone were to find your first name and photo on a dating app, they might be able to search on Facebook for people who live in the area and have a similar name. They would then be able to narrow down their search and identify your specific profile based on your display photo. It’s that easy.

Online harassment and stalking can take many forms. If someone is looking to defame you, they can easily create a fake profile for you on a variety of different social media platforms or dating apps. This can damage your reputation and even result in violent harassment from other individuals if the person who is operating the fake account chooses to engage with aggressors using your name.

Someone pretending to be you online, especially on a dating app, can create serious problems. The imposter can direct contact to your personal cell phone if they have access to the number, and they can even send individuals to your home or place of business. Having your personal life disrupted by online harassment can be detrimental to your health and mental health, possibly resulting in anxiety and PTSD.

Online Dating Safety Tips

It is impossible to entirely avoid online stalkers and harassment over the internet. The best course of action is to take an increased level of safety precautions when engaging in online dating. Simple actions can block potential risks from your virtual dating experience.

  • Never share your place of business with strangers. Even if you’re getting to know someone that you find interesting, don’t share the location of your job with anyone that you don’t entirely trust.
  • Use different photos on your dating profile. Google allows anyone to reverse image search, and if you have a photo on your dating app that is also on your Instagram, someone will be able to find your social media profile whether you want them to or not. Having a photo on your dating profile that is not available elsewhere on the internet is a good way to prevent this from happening.
  • Never reveal your full name. Although this may seem obvious, it is important to never give too much identifying information to anyone you have met online. Stalkers can use your full name to look up your social media profiles and even your home address.
  • Give alternate contact information. If you don’t feel comfortable providing your actual contact information to someone you just started connecting with, you can create an alternate phone number for yourself using Google Voice or use private messaging apps like WhatsApp.
  • Recruit a friend. Feeling nervous about a potential date is natural, but if you find that you are anxious about meeting someone in person, enlist the help of a friend. This can mean giving them the time of your date, the address where you will be meeting up, and identifying information you might have about the person you’re meeting, such as their name or a photograph.

Are Dating Apps Liable for Harassment?

Although dating apps themselves can become a platform for repeated and damaging harassment, there is no law that makes the company that developed the technology liable for any kind of harmful activity that occurs in their virtual environment.

Recently, a case of a man being harassed over the dating app Grindr was rejected after he filed claims of negligence and emotional distress against the software company. The individual who pursued the claim stated that the harassment grew in severity over time and resulted in the plaintiff receiving as many as 16 strangers visiting his home and place of employment every day. Regardless of the intensity of these allegations, the court ruled that the app company was not responsible for the distress incurred by the man who filed the claim against them.

Protect Yourself Online with an Experienced Defense Attorney in Orlando, Florida

If you have recently been a victim of online stalking or harassment, or if you have been wrongfully accused of a similar crime, you need a trusted defense attorney who will work with you to build a strong case.

The offices of Fighter Law in Central Florida have a team of experienced defense lawyers waiting to help you win your case. When you’re ready to learn more, contact us at (407) FIGHTER (344-4837) or reach out to us online to schedule your free consultation.


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