New research by TechRobot has analysed profiles across popular dating apps to reveal what the most commonly shared information is, and the risks and consequences this can have.
Dating apps have seen a surge in users in recent years as people use online platforms to meet potential partners. But often cybercriminals pose as possible matches for nefarious reasons, putting many online daters’ identities, and safety, at risk.
To find out the potential consequences of using dating apps, TechRobot has analysed 180 profiles across Bumble, Tinder, and Hinge to reveal how much information people share on their dating profiles.
TechRobot’s study found that people share the most personal information on their Bumble profiles. 98% share photos of themselves and all profiles share their first name and live location and there’s no option to hide this information. 90% of all Bumble profiles also share their personal interests and hobbies, 55% share where they live, 28% share job titles, and 20% of Bumble profiles also share their Instagram handle. This is more than enough information for someone to have an insight into what online daters are doing throughout their day, and where they are, increasing the risk of stalking.
The research also found that women share an average of 33% of possible data points across Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge compared to men who share 31%. Men are more likely to share information on their status, education level and work-life- 39% of men share their job title, 36% the languages they speak, 19% their employer, and 33% their education level. Women, on the other hand, tend to share information that makes them seem more physically attractive – 98% share their age, 96% share photos of what they look like and 26% share their Instagram handle. With women sharing more information on their physical appearance the risk of them being impersonated by a catfish is exacerbated and the information that men share about their job titles and employer means they are more likely to be victims to blackmail attempts. Cybercriminals often offer inducements for monetary gain and use sensitive information such as an individual’s workplace to leverage this.
When comparing dating profiles based on sexuality TechRobot found homosexual online daters are more likely to share sensitive information with potential matches than straight users do. 28% of homosexual profiles share where they live compared to just 19% of heterosexual profiles and 98% of lesbian and gay dating profiles share what they look like, compared to 93% of straight profiles. Lesbian women were also found to share the most information on their profiles of all the groups researched and they share the most on Bumble – 42% of all possible data points. 44% of lesbian profiles share where they live, and 36% their job title. Collectively, this means lesbian women are providing strangers on dating apps with a huge insight into their personal lives which could heighten their risk of being stalked, or even harassed.
Users can take steps to protect their privacy and safety when online dating. Lasse Walstad recommends using unique images on dating profiles: ‘Using reverse image search on Google, people will be able to find out your social accounts and any other places that your photos are posted giving them potential access to a large amount of personal information. Using images that you have not used on your other social accounts will ensure that you can reduce the chances of your other accounts, such as Instagram and Facebook, being less likely to be found.’ This will reduce online daters’ chances of being catfished and victims of stalking crimes.
While the amount of personal information we share on our dating profiles is dependent on the app, gender, and sexual orientation, all profiles expose enough information to offer strangers a huge insight into their lives. This puts online daters’ identity, and safety, at risk and exacerbates their chances of being victims of crimes like blackmail, stalking, catfishing or harassment.