As smartphone usage continues to increase, dating apps have become some of the most popular all over the world. Technology has changed people’s behavior, leaving many of the social skills to digital interaction. Social media apps keep people connect to their friends and family on a 24/7 basis, and help them make new friends even through apps that are not intended for that, like Instagram. In this new scenario, dating apps have turned into a very convenient upgrade to the looking for love task, but as international investigators have advised, they also represent a major risk.
Tinder is one of the hottest dating apps out there, which focuses on only showing you dateable people in your area. Great part of the appeal of this app is the fact that it is able to locate other users among a 25-mile radius. For those unfamiliar with the app, Tinder displays a pile of snapshots of potential dates in a user’s immediate area. If both sides of a match express interest, they have the option to message each other directly inside the app. According to Tinder, the rest is up to you.
Being location aware is considered a great feature for some of its users, since the app can actually find a match close enough to meet each other. After all, meeting is the purpose of it all. Finding someone local is even better. But, this location feature happens to also put its users at serious risk for stalking and other crimes by predators and criminals. Revealing when and where you are, where you go, and on what days, is just not a smart idea according to reputable private investigators. It may be fun and handy for those you trust, but the fact is you don’t know who you’re dealing with online.
Why is it so dangerous to share locations?
International private investigators have been warning people for years about the dangers of maintaining their GPS on all of the time or using apps that collect location data. Of course, being connected is now part of our everyday life and no one wants to be left behind, but it is still important to be cautious, to know the risks and to establish limits to our interaction online. Leaving a digital trail about your movements and location is a great resource for government, corporations and criminals. If you don’t like Big Brother watching your every move, you might want to turn this off.
For the first part, a criminal would only have to create an account in order to be able to track people’s moves. Anyone can be part of Tinder. But the risks go further than having a stalker (of course this is reason enough to be cautious). Being able to track someone’s location can also help a criminal learn about other important details of a person’s life, like where they work, what interests they have, where they pick up their children at school, etc. When you are home, when you are not. There is a lot of information that can be retrieved by just tracking a GPS, and mobile apps are making it easy. The data obtained can be material for extortion, identity theft, domestic violence, terrorist attacks and many other types of crime. On vacation? It’s a perfect time to break in your house!
Think twice about what you share online and who your so-called friends are.
Not the first time Tinder is questioned for privacy concerns
Tinder has already been criticized due to privacy issues in the past. The app had a vulnerability that let any user get an exact latitude and longitude coordinate for other users. The goal of the app is to connect people who are relatively close, but it is not supposed to disclose exact locations. Although certain vulnerabilities were fixed, there have been other privacy issues revealed, like the accusations of the app serving up Facebook IDs and exact birth dates without the user’s knowledge.
Facebook scams are an entirely different story. Flaws in the handling of personal information and location data have been common ground in the mobile app and internet industry. Companies store a lot more information about us than we imagine, they know where you are, they know your interests and probably your daily routines. But who do they share and sell this information to?
What is being done to solve the issue
In the United States, there have been attempts to control the way companies handle location data. The Location Privacy Protection Act of 2015 has been introduced in the Senate. This bill would require companies to get the consent of users before they share location data that they have collected with third parties. The legislation is also being branded as an anti-stalking, anti-domestic violence measure: it would ban smartphone apps that use location data to help stalkers find victims.
What can you do?
It is the decision of the user whether or not they agree to use an app that can potentially be harmful. In general terms, private investigators recommend to avoid using apps that collect location data and to learn how to set up privacy settings to protect personal information. Share as little information online as you can, and when possible use aliases. In your digital social life, try to take one step at a time. If you meet someone online or through a mobile app and feel interested in taking further steps, hire a reputable private investigator to conduct a dating background check investigation to lower your risk. If you’ve met someone and need them verified, contact us today for a free quote.
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