Making Sure People Are Real in a Virtual World

Since the global lockdown, the use of dating applications has skyrocketed. Millions of singles have been quarantined at home, not to mention having to follow distancing guidelines, stopping people from meeting in person. You would expect this would be a disaster for businesses in the dating app industry, right? The opposite has in fact happened, as the ‘virtual dating’ trend has taken off all over the world. We’ve seen many dating apps such as Tinder quickly accommodate this trend. They’ve added new features that help users find that special someone to talk to in what can be lonely and challenging times. 

There has been an almost 30% spike in messages exchanged users of all ages on Match’s platforms from April to February. Video chat has played a huge part in dating since COVID-19 hit. There has also been a shift in the gender ratio amongst dating app users, with many reporting an increase in more female sign-ups, balancing the number of men and women dating online.

‘Is this real?’

While online dating has brought many advantages which have allowed single people to communicate with one another, the pandemic may have encouraged more fake profiles. After all, they won’t be meeting face-to-face any time soon. Frauds have found this to be the perfect opportunity to exploit those who feel especially lonely. Finding someone who they can fool is easier than ever. Over half of Millennials and Gen Z admitted to placing exaggerated or false information on their dating profiles. At the end of COVID-19, it will be no surprise to see an increase in romance scams and disappointed daters due to the fake profiles on dating apps.

But how can we turn the tide on this type of behaviour, verify profiles and instill trust? Many dating apps are starting to implement video dating after seeing many singles are using Zoom or FaceTime to connect. Some may think that the use of video calls decreases the chances of someone hiding behind a fake persona, as they can see who they are talking to on the other side of the screen. 

However, the appearance or behaviour of what they see during a video chat does not remove the secrets that this person might be keeping. For example, video chat still allows those to lie about their job, age or even where they live. Video chat can also work to the advantage of the fake member, as it might sound and look more convincing. Whether it’s through chat or video, scammers can still ask for your help getting out of a sticky money situation or to pay for their medical expenses. If they are abroad, they may also request help with paying for their travel expense to visit, but then never turn up.

With this in mind, there are some early signs that can help to separate the real from the fake:

  • Early requests for personal information (beyond what is already shown on your profile) can often determine whether a member has an ulterior motive
  • A profile with just one profile photo and minimal information about themselves could suggest the account was built in a hurry, and the user doesn’t want to disclose any real information
  • Forward or overly-friendly language from the outset can also raise alarm bells for genuine users. While this could be innocent flirting, it could also prove misleading with user not planning on really ‘getting to know you’ at all

Real users with RealMe

At RealMe, we always encourage people to approach online dating with enthusiasm, but with equal caution. When it comes to the challenges brought on by the lockdown, RealMe can provide a series of features which can identify background information of members on a dating platform.

With access to over 325 million verified Reputation Profiles, we can identify key facts about users, such as criminal records, financial backgrounds and marriage records. Additionally, RealMe can also reveal their educational history and voting options, as well as the content on social media platforms. Combine this with the virtual dating video, platforms can go a long way to eliminate misleading or fake profiles and improve dating for genuine users. 

By integrating RealMe into dating apps, members do not have to rely on a video call to learn the truth about a person they’ve met online. For platforms, our automatic Reputation Profiles can improve the safety of users not just today, but in the future too. During this particular time of loneliness, people looking for love online should not be seen as victims. Together with partners, dating apps must work to ensure they deliver fun and safe dating in both a virtual world and beyond.