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The online environment could also lull users into thinking they know someone, and therefore making themselves vulnerable.To date, much of the research on online dating has been conducted by dating companies themselves.But fake profiles abound, sexual predators use the sites, and some common online dating behavior—like meeting alone after scant acquaintance, sharing personal information, and using geolocation—puts users at risk.Dating companies are being pushed to better protect users, but some seem reluctant to do more— or even to talk about whether there’s a problem.In the US, the FBI collects data about so-called romance fraud and about online “sexploitation,” but data about physical assault linked to dating sites is scant.The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, conducted by the US government, last collected data in 2011 and will publish an update this year, but doesn’t ask questions about online dating.Not all countries in which sites operate have databases such as Match’s, however, and even those that exist tend to have incomplete data.Gregory Dickson, the judge in the Jason Lawrence case, used his in-court comments to call for a system of “automatic referral to the police,” or another agency, when complaints are made to dating companies.
By contrast, the UK’s Office for National Statistics has recorded an increase in sexual assaults since 2012.The trouble is that statistics on crimes linked to online dating are sparse.In 2016, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) released findings on data from police forces around the country. Not all the forces collect data specific to dating apps.But here’s one telling, albeit only suggestive, comparison: The Pew Research Center found that between 20 the proportion of American adults using dating services tripled.
In Britain, attacks related to online dating increased almost six-fold over roughly the same period.
Over the past four years, 17 people in the Greater Manchester area have reported being raped after using one of two apps, Grindr and Tinder, according to police statistics obtained by Leech through a freedom of information request.