Digital dating

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Digital dating

  1. 1. Digital Dating besafeonline
  2. 2. 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 profile picture... Happily ever...
  3. 3. Be Safe Online Digital Dating www.avg.com 2 F 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 signing up. 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 honest terms. 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 desperate? Judy Bitterli is a Senior Vice President at AVG. She blogs about online experiences at http://blogs.avg.com
  4. 4. O 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 right. 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 suitable. 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. Be Safe Online Digital Dating www.avg.com 3 There’s no harm in trying, even if you later decide it’s preferable meeting people the old-fashioned way.
  5. 5. 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? Be Safe Online Digital Dating www.avg.com 4
  6. 6. Niche sites Uniform Dating 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. ALikeWise A popular site where book lovers meet to get under the covers. Of their best-loved books, of course. Passions Network 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. Tastebuds 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. The Atlasphere 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 Ayn Rand. Be Safe Online Digital Dating www.avg.com 5 The Atlasphere
  7. 7. 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 membership fee. 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 efforts. 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 exaggerated claims. 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 membership
  8. 8. I 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. Be Safe Online Digital Dating www.avg.com 7
  9. 9. 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 Dating data www.avg.com 8 The internet dating industry generated $1.049 billionin annual revenue in 2012 $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ 52.4% 47.6% 52.4 % of those are male 47.6 % of those are female 74%of singles in the US have tried online dating 17% of marriages in the last year (2012) met on a dating site = 10,000,000
  10. 10. B 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 internet fraud. 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 privacy settings. 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 online. Be Safe Online Digital Dating www.avg.com 9
  11. 11. C omputer viruses are just one threat, and with more of us moving our digital life onto smartphones and tablets, we’re more vulnerable than ever. 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 legitimate. 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 account. Be Safe Online Digital Dating www.avg.com 10 Beware of scams, including fake profiles that lead to illegal sites and fraudsters
  12. 12. ...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 everyone concerned. Learn more about internet security at www.avg.com Join us on Facebook www.facebook.com/AVGFree

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