Hofstra University Law Professor Calls for Catfishing Crackdown

Irina Manta, a professor at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, New York, has penned a Washington Post column calling for a crackdown on “Tinder lies”.

Some 80% of people lie in their dating profiles, according to one study, and more egregious lies could amount to “sexual fraud” in her view.

Apps make it easy to deceive hundreds of other singles simultaneously, the piece argues, and so a dating app lie can be seen as different from a lie in a bar or nightclub. Further, perpetrators are able to disappear at will and avoid any repercussions for their deception.

Manta brings up the examples of petty shoplifting and false advertising by way of comparison, noting that we punish individuals and organisations for these indiscretions despite them causing less tangible harm than Tinder lies.

Prolonged deception may be particularly detrimental to women, she says, because the “opportunity cost of a fraudulent relationship can add another dimension to the pain in the form of diminished fertility.”

Her proposal is to have deception tried in small claims courts, with fines capped at $10,000. Criteria for deciding whether a claim is sexually fraudulent might consider whether the information “(1) was misleading and (2) involved one or more material facts about a person that (3) a reasonable person could have used to decide whether to engage in sexual intercourse.”

The counterargument that individuals should be free to deceive in a sexual setting is said to reflect a “misogynistic attitude of entitlement to sex”.

Read more here.