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Published Thursday, March 4, Open user data provided by online dating sites can be a blessing and a curse.

How to communicate safely on tinder

With more people turning to them during lockdown, the risks to privacy are being exacerbated. With Covid restrictions still in place and Spring approaching, many Brits are turning to online dating sites as a way of getting back into the mating game. A user poll on British online dating platform Bumble suggested many started using it after a pandemic-related breakup.

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User behaviour also shifted. There is now a trend to leave more data on these platforms. User analytics for some platforms suggests messages sent back and forth have grown longer and more frequent since the start of the pandemic.

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In the open data world, online dating apps pose both risks and advantages. Needless to say, increased interest is a boon for the operators of these sites. For users, the benefits in times of social distancing and limited personal interaction seem obvious, too. Instead of meeting people in bars that are now shut, technology helps singles to connect.

How to set up your safe and private tinder profile

All these platforms are now minted with extremely sensitive private user data. Tinder or Badoo are useful for investigating the background information, personal character, interests, preferences or behaviour of the target.

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Such open data can have advantages for transparency and help protect singles who are unsure who is reaching out to them. Open data investigators and citizen journalists can use it to feel safer after verifying that the person they are flirting with is genuine. An example is Tinder, for which people have started to write open-source intelligence guides.

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Even without a profile, these allow you to query usernames via the URL. Using DuckDuckGo, for its ability to respect users' privacy, you can search for a username. As people often use their real name as their username, anyone with browser-access can have a go.

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False positives are possible, so keep this in mind. Nonetheless, the data, which is a photo or multiple photosa name, an age, and an occupation, is often enough to verify an identity.

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There are also Exif data tools that can be used for images which examine the GPS location of where they were taken. Exfiltool to examine Exif data is one example but be aware that scammers can embed fake data, too.

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To verify an identity with a name there are websites like WebMii If you have an address, you can perform a reverse lookup and target dating sites. Open data from other open repositories allows us to perform 'rough' background checks. One such tool is Truthfinder. Free databases dating site users can also check the US National Sex Offender listsfor which there is a UK equivalent, the convicted sex offenders list.

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There are risks associated with making such data public. Bad actors or stalkers, as a blogger explains heremay actually write code to have a bot program cycle through various variants of usernames — in this case, a name containing alike Ashley1, Ashley2 and so on.

Tip: Need to verify if a specific Tinder username exists?

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Hackers and impersonators could use the data or the image for nefarious causes. Tactics involving con artists and catfishers during lockdown isolation have increased in Hong Kong's online dating market, the BBC reported.

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Anyone with the knowledge could write code to query open-data APIs from dating platforms and geolocate other users. Users might try to spoof their location on Tinder by using an emulator like Genymotion that allows them to access GPS settings and change locations on the go. There is also Bluestacks which does a similar job. Why would anyone want to do this?

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Manipulating your Tinder location may allow you to reveal military personnel's position at secret or isolated military bases. If you set the GPS on your phone to the location you expect your target to be can allow to identify soldiers on a specific military base if they use Tinder locally, that is. It might be one reason why the Indian army now prohibits its personnel from using platforms like Tinder see a leaked list from last year, below. Full list of 89 apps banned by Indian army from usage by it's personnel.

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IMO civilians should also follow it. Its authors warn that recorded requests may contain personal data. One final thought is how to address these privacy issues. Examples such as the Ashley Madison data breach show data is at risk to be exploited and shared freely.

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Maybe less surprising, it also shows that there are a high percentage of fake s on these platforms. Open data can be a blessing and a curse. A boon if you want to verify whether the person you are flirting with is real. It's often a curse when it comes to your own privacy. A start would be to hold dating apps able for encouraging oversharing.

This is something dating site operators need to work out, even if this means to be a turn-off for some users. Toggle Menu. Image credit: Dreamstime. Ofcom powers up to police video-sharing platforms. CD-sized discs that hold TB of data made possible with laser writing method.

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Determining the user’s location

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You input your name, some photos, set your location and sexual preferences and you're launched into a sea of mostly singles to chat with, meet and take things from there.


In this guide, we will take you step-by-step through the entire online dating process.


Millions of people are using online dating sites to search for love or connection, but users should beware: many online dating sites are taking short cuts in safeguarding the privacy and security of users.


Published Thursday, March 4,