Nerds are doing it. So are “beautiful people.” Book lovers. Music fanatics. Over 50s.
Under 30s. Professionals. Farmers. Tattoo enthusiasts. Those who like a man, or a
woman, in uniform.
Whatever your age, interests, location or outlook on relationships, there’s an online
dating site for you. There’s also plenty to know, even before you upload your perfect
Be Safe Online Digital Dating www.avg.com 2
or every story of internet dating
gone wrong there’s an equally
funny, poignant, uplifting or even
inspirational tale. It’s not for everyone
but, then again, millions of people are
looking for love online every day.
So how do you decide whether or not
to give it a try? Or where to begin?
Well, given there are thousands of
different digital dating sites - many
with dozens of sub-groups for people
with similar interests - there’s plenty
of scope for checking it out before
That’s not to say anyone should throw
caution to the keyboard and dive in
with no inhibitions. There are simple,
basic safeguards to take when seeking
love, or even just friendly relationships,
on the internet. It’s not just other
daters to be aware of: even some
well-known sites have been accused
of promoting themselves and their
matchmaking success rates in less than
Regardless of whether you’re
something of a digital dating expert or
if you’d never before imagined creating
a personal profile, read on for tips on
where to go - or steer clear of - and
what to do when you get there.
IntroductionMaybe friends have suggested you try online dating, or you’ve been curious but
sceptical: Is it full of scammers or weirdos? A waste of time and money? Will I look
Judy Bitterli is a Senior
Vice President at AVG.
She blogs about online
nce upon a time, first dates
were about getting to know
someone before deciding if a
second date was in order - until the
internet intervened. Now your date is
likely to know the basics about you,
and possibly a good deal more, well
ahead of meeting in person. Even
those who are introduced offline will
probably still do a little background
snooping via Google.
So is online dating for you? Start with
a simple search and see where it leads.
You’ll soon get a feel for the types of
sites that are in sync with your
ambitions, and those that don’t feel
Once you’ve narrowed down the
sites you would consider signing up
for, look for any articles, blog posts
or social commentary that illustrate
other users’ experiences or any
problems, such as privacy concerns,
associated with the sites. As with
anything, it’s usually the shocking or
disturbing stories that make news,
not the boring anecdotes or reports
of happily matched couples. Try not to
get discouraged, but take your time
to decide which sites seem the most
It’s estimated at least 40 million
Americans have tried internet dating,
with more joining dating sites every
day. If nothing else, online dating
is great practice for anyone who is
a little rusty, doesn’t like standard
pick-up joints or prefers to be more
selective about who they go out with.
There’s no harm in trying, even if you
later decide it’s preferable meeting
people the old-fashioned way.
New here?Dating just isn’t what it used to be. Once upon a time, first dates were about
getting to know someone before deciding if a second date was in order - until
the internet intervened.
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There’s no harm in
trying, even if you later
decide it’s preferable
meeting people the
Is a rigorous screening process that blocks
married people and convicted criminals
important, or do you trust your own
instincts? Do you want a quick match,
such as through an app that shows dates
nearby, or do you prefer to go slow and
consider your options?
Some dating sites charge a fee, others
don’t, but either way you’ll be paying
somehow when you sign up. Personal
information is valuable to websites, and
the more details users give away the more
profitable it is for the sites. Why? They
sell data on to other advertisers or third
parties, such as data aggregator sites, or
direct you to websites they partner with.
Any content you share - from your
interests to your photos - becomes the
property of that site, and you lose the
rights to control how it’s used. That means
your picture could pop up as a “Date Of
The Week” promotion, so be prepared for
anyone to see it.
Also be aware that pictures you post may
appear on photo identification services
such as Google Image Search. Don’t want
your boss to find your profile on Tattoo
Passions.com? Don’t use the same picture
that’s on your LinkedIn account.
Creating a profile requires at least as
much consideration as where to place
it. Everyone wants to put their best face
forward, which often means fudging
about height or weight, using a misleading
photo, or trying to look more successful
or likeable. It’s human nature, and you’re
probably as guilty of it as the next person.
The great thing is, with internet dating you
can be as choosy or open-minded as you
want and no one else has to know.
First upFree sites with millions of users. Niche sites for people just like you. Memberships,
no-cost browsing, apps - how do you choose?
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Have the hots for firefighters? Nurses float your boat?
Military personnel make you stand to attention? Or are
you a uniformed worker just looking for some love and
understanding? Either way, this site’s for you.
A popular site where book lovers meet to get under the covers.
Of their best-loved books, of course.
The site for people with a passion for, well, just about anything:
weather, mimes, mustaches, ninjas, robotics - if you have a
slightly unusual interest or hobby, your like-minded opposite
number is here.
There’s nothing worse than falling for someone, only to
discover they’re a Lite Rock fan while you’re a devoted punk.
Tastebuds is good for those who like to mirror their own
tastes, but could be limiting.
Date My Pet
Its motto, “Date me. Date my pet.” says it all.
More than just a dating site for people who appreciate a certain
genera, The Atlasphere is the lifestyle website of choice for
devotees of the early 20th Century Russian-American author
Be Safe Online Digital Dating www.avg.com 5
They spout percentages and numbers,
throw around words such as “algorithms”
and “chemistry tests” and are fronted
by affable, wise-looking medical types
who are coy about their techniques while
guaranteeing results. It’s impossible to
know whether these claims are legitimate
since they can’t be independently verified
- and that’s why sceptics say dating sites
can’t live up to their promises.
Then there’s the anecdotal evidence.
Some sites have faced criticism for
creating fake profiles to lure singles
into buying a membership. Other users
complain of receiving dozens of messages
on a site’s free service, only to have the
volume diminish after they’ve paid the
Critics say it’s not profitable to create
happy couples, and therefore singles
might be directed to inappropriate
matches. And while sites boast of
millions of users, many of those might
not be actively maintaining a profile.
Some sites, including eHarmony, say their
methodical selection process weighs up
things such as emotional temperament,
intellect, physicality, values and beliefs
- what eHarmony founder Dr. Neil Clark
Warren calls the “29 Dimensions of
Compatibility.” The site doesn’t disclose
how it achieves it, but claims that the
vows exchanged between 438 Americans
each day, or 4 percent of new U.S.
marriages in 2012, were the result of its
You can’t argue with a blissfully married
couple who found each other online, and
surely plenty of people do. But don’t put
too much stock in dating sites’ seemingly
Secret formulaIf you believe the hype, some dating websites’ methods are as scientifically
evidence-based as, say, the Food and Drug Administration’s stance on smoking.
Be Safe Online Digital Dating www.avg.com 6
Some sites have faced
criticism for so-called
‘ghost’ profiles, or fake
‘members’ used to lure
singles into buying a
f you’re just getting used to the
idea of ‘meeting’ potential dates
in a digital sphere, you may not
want to jump into mobile dating. But
finding someone who is available and
nearby is possible through a number
of mobile applications that can be
downloaded to a smartphone or
tablet. Wanting to grab a coffee but
hoping for more company than your
newspaper can offer you? Apps such
as Twoo, Tinder or dozens more can
help you connect almost instantly.
On the other end of the spectrum,
there’s virtual dating, where
individuals create avatars on websites
such as Weopia, OmniDate and Date
My Avi, and go on cyber ‘dates’ before
deciding whether to exchange details
or meet in real life.
Video dating has taken off as more
people use video-link communication
through Skype and FaceTime. Could
feel a little stilted, but it’s the next
best thing to meeting for drinks.
If you’ve got money to spend but lack
time, confidence or a knack for writing
a profile that does you justice, you can
hire dating assistants to do everything
from create and maintain your profile
to sifting through potential matches
and setting up dates on your behalf.
You only have to show up and report
back - just be sure to get your story
straight so your date doesn’t discover
there’s a middleman.
Finally, in a nod to the matchmaking
agencies of yore, there are
introduction sites, which leave it up
to someone else to find compatible
matches for you.
What’s new?You could stick to well-known sites that are the digital version of personal ads.
But with online dating, there are new options emerging all the time.
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Stats according to The Statistic Brain Research Institute, which compiles data from various sources including Reuters and The Washington Post.
Be Safe Online Digital Dating
The internet dating
billionin annual revenue
$ $ $
$ $ $
$ $ $
52.4 % of those are male
47.6 % of those are female
74%of singles in the US have
tried online dating
of marriages in the
last year (2012) met on a
ut the basic rules of meeting
someone new still apply: don’t
rush to give away too much
personal information, such as where
you live; don’t lie but anticipate that
other users may; and do trust your
instincts. If another user makes you
feel uncomfortable, is aggressive,
suggestive or asks for money, or even
if they seem too good to be true, it
might be time to put on the brakes.
If you’re extra cautious, there are apps
and websites, such as MyMatchChecker.
com, that run background checks. The
federal Department of State also has
safety tips and advice on how to report
Be wary of connecting through social
media, which provides access to your
personal details, until you think you’ll
remain friends in real life. You might
consider a dating app, such as Zoosk,
which connects users through social
sites, but be sure to customize your
Think carefully before posting your
profile. Don’t use your real name or
specifics about where you live or work,
including contact details. Consider setting
up an e-mail account for dating purposes
only. A good profile sells a person’s best
qualities and unique attributes, and
doesn’t make them look vulnerable or
needy. Scammers will usually steer clear
of more confident-sounding profiles.
When you’ve agreed to meet in person -
ideally after plenty of chatting - have your
own transportation and meet in a public
place. Let a friend know what you’re up
to, not least because you’ll want to share
if it’s love at first sight or a flop.
Date safelyIt’s natural to feel both excited and apprehensive about finding other singles
Be Safe Online Digital Dating www.avg.com 9
omputer viruses are just one
threat, and with more of us moving
our digital life onto smartphones
and tablets, we’re more vulnerable than
Without adequate security software,
spurious applications can infect your
device and you could be making
sensitive data, such as passwords and
credit card details, available to hackers.
Make sure that you have secured your
device and check that anything you are
downloading is 100 percent safe and
Even safe apps can collect and share
your data, including your phone and
e-mail contacts, internet activity and -
particularly in for location-based services
such as Skout - your exact location.
Ignore privacy policies at your peril.
Did you know that some photos taken on
smartphones will have embedded data
that can show the geographical
coordinates of where they were taken?
This information can be stripped, but
be careful you’re not providing a map to
your home or neighborhood hangouts.
Dating profiles can turn up on internet
searches too, so look in the privacy
settings to make sure yours is only
available to other users logged into the
site. Especially with paid memberships,
it’s wise to check the terms and
conditions to find out how to delete an
account or stop paying. Most sites will
hang onto the content shared with them
long after users have left, so find out
what the site does with such information.
As with any online activity, take care
when using public computers or WiFi
networks. It’s not difficult for other users
to see what you’re up to if you’re not
encrypting your online activities, putting
your data at risk.
Lastly, beware of scams, including fake
profiles that lead to illegal sites and
fraudsters and predators who target
susceptible online daters. These are
relatively rare and fairly easy to detect
and avoid, just keep your wits about you.
Tech safetyDating has always carried the risk that you might contract something unpleasant,
but not the kind of virus that could steal your identity or wipe out your bank
Be Safe Online Digital Dating www.avg.com 10
Beware of scams,
including fake profiles
that lead to illegal sites
...AfterMaybe it all sounds too scary or complicated, and you’re thinking it’s simpler
just to stay single. But despite the cautionary tales and some websites’ inflated
promises of long-lasting love, there are millions of people making new friends,
experiencing unique adventures and just having fun through online dating. Who
knows - you might even find your Happily Ever After.
With a few tips, you can make the experience even better for
Learn more about internet security at www.avg.com
Join us on Facebook www.facebook.com/AVGFree
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