Online dating – who’s responsible for your safety?

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I read an article recently in SF Chronicle about security screening in online dating, or rather the lack thereof. Apparently, all the way over in America, a convicted murderer was using match.com to find love. His profile was removed once he was discovered by a newspaper in his area.

Over there, some states are already demanding that dating sites vet their clients in some way. A trend that may spread, with some dating sites already voluntarily doing it to attract the more paranoid of daters.

Would you want to have to go through a background check to use a dating site? Would you want to have to provide a police background check, maybe a financial background check, maybe provide a certificate proving you’re single? Maybe later on one proving you’re healthy (so you won’t die on your partner in a few years) or that your parents didn’t die of anything that may be genetic. But why stop here? As we all know (we do know this, don’t we?) many personality tests on dating sites are not really all that. Why not make members take an in depth personality test proving they’re not likely to ever commit a crime in the future? As we all know, many serial killers have no previous known record, so how would you know? Maybe we should make everyone who wants to chat or date online pay for an appointment with a shrink to figure this one out.

As you can see, I’m not wild about this concept of compromising one’s privacy when all they want to do is date online. You wouldn’t do a background check on anyone who goes to your local bar, so why expect dating sites to be able to tell you everything about everyone on their site? And while we’re on it, why exclude ex cons from finding love? OK, in this case, they’ve chosen the complete extreme end of the scale as an example, but there are many lesser crimes people commit that would also appear on someone’s background check and may not be relevant at all to their online dating experience.

Crime happens. Dangerous people are out there. But do we really need to look up to dating sites to dig into our lives and tell people everything about us in order to be able to happily find love online? wouldn’t it be better to simply shatter that false sense of security by educating people and reminding them it’s a mean mean world out there?

Personally, I’d be happy with dating sites just doing what they’re doing now and fighting scammers and fraudsters (only, you know, doing a better job) and ensuring I remember to watch out for myself. How about you?

The full article is available here.

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