My Real Valentine – Safe Dating in the Season of Romance

February – otherwise known as the month of love – is going to look a little different this year. Romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant will, for many, become an evening cuddled up in front of your favorite movie. Yet, for those on the lookout for love, this time of year can be the best time of year to grab yourself a (now virtual) date – and 2020 proved that. 

From ‘online to offline’ dating app Hinge, which sees 35 percent more dates arranged on Valentine’s Day night than others, to the spike in sign-ups dating giant Tinder records in the lead up each year – love is almost certainly in the air — and apps! And one thing’s for sure, it is set to stay in our most digital year yet. Yes, these apps still provide singletons with an online environment to connect with others this time of year more than most. However, the excitement should not come at the price of user safety. 

Although digital interaction is the new standard for many of us, connecting people virtually still has its risks which here at RealMe, we work hard with our partners to combat through the right mix of data and technology. Having the right safeguards in place can offer users an exciting and worry-free environment to meet potential matches. With the countdown on to Valentine’s Day, let’s take a look at some effective ways to date safely during the romantic season.

Choose apps that champion safety

Virtual dating is becoming more secure as new technologies emerge, but there is still work to be done.  We’re all familiar with the term ‘catfishing’ and dating apps have become a hotspot for romance scammers to try their luck with duping genuine users out of their time, money, and affection. A study conducted by RealMe found that “nearly 3 in 4 people admit to having misrepresented their dating profile, believing it is important to look their best online, even if that means distorting reality.” That’s why choosing a dating site with the right safeguards in place to remove poor behavior is the key to safe dating. 

A dating site without any user verification features is rare to find nowadays. Whether it is email, number, and even face verification or RealMe’s online reputation platform, it’s important to understand the level of attention each platform puts into their user’s safety. Choosing the apps that are transparent with their safety features and invest in new practices offer users that peace of mind to date with confidence in the person at the other end of the screen. 

The detail is in the data

The digital sphere is expanding every second and it’s no secret that a potential date may run the name of the person who caught their attention through a background search on Google or social media. RealMe, in partnership with FTI Consulting, conducted a recent study and found that 92% of more virtuous daters find it more important to look up people they’ve met online. Protecting genuine users from those with a tendency to mislead must be an agenda for dating platforms.

However, finding out the truth online is often easier said than done. Nowadays, anyone can choose to give away as much – or as little – as they wish to the public. From location and photos right down to education history, the opportunities to portray a better version of your offline self is endless – and anyone caught up in finding their perfect partner this February may get caught up in doing just that.

Now we must match user trust with data to protect real users from the risks that misleading profiles can create – especially when the search for a new flame becomes more important around this time of year. RealMe has access to over 275 million verified Reputation Profiles to help apps take this leg work away from users. Our technology gathers key facts about users, from criminal records, financial backgrounds to their social media profiles to find holes in their online story and make sure only genuine users get the opportunity to interact. 

We then take that one step further. In partnership with Spectrum Labs, the user’s data is analyzed to identify patterns of harassing or toxic behavior with off-app analysis in real-time. Combine that with UrSafe’s safety app and users can feel safe and stay connected with friends, family, and local authorities while out on a physical Valentine’s date. 

Raise any red flags

It may be just 24 hours, but Valentine’s Day should not give users a window of opportunity to operate hastily or with a hidden agenda. Almost every dating app or site has a zero-tolerance approach to inappropriate behavior – whether it’s aggressive, uncomfortable, or ingenuine. If users encounter any strange activity with a particular user, reporting this is a critical first step to a safer platform for everyone. 

Its important users know how to spot strange behavior and exactly how to raise any red flags to their chosen online dating provider immediately. For example, tell-tale signs include someone who repeatedly turns down a video chat, an unusually forward tone in their first messages, and a single, distorted profile image. However, dating platforms that go one step further with checks that stop these users in their tracks before hitting the app will ensure that honest users focus all of their time on finding the right match this February.

Valentine’s Day can be daunting for those who are not in a relationship and many people will turn to online dating to find a virtual date this year. With the right technology and know-how in place, dating providers can help users turn their online safety up to the max. RealMe continues to work with their partners to provide a safe environment for others to connect on the 14th and beyond.

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Source: FTI Consulting (May 2020) — Surveyed 3,303 US general population respondents weighted on age, gender, location, and 2016 Presidential vote