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John Leech thinks the situation is new, and dangerous.A local council member in Manchester, in the north of England, Leech this year launched a campaign to make online dating companies commit to keeping their users safer.But Leech wants other protections, like giving users alerts about potential risks before they ever begin chatting with strangers.

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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.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.In the absence of hard data, it’s anecdotes that shape the conversation about online dating safety.In 2016 Stephen Port was convicted in the UK of killing four young men he met on the gay dating app Grindr.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.Not all people who report attacks mention whether an app was involved.Victims, as well as perpetrators, hide crimes: Only an estimated 17% of all rapes, app-linked or not, are reported to police, the NCA said.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.

284 comments

  1. According to survey results, about 10% of sex offenders use online dating websites, and 25% of rapists find their victims through the Internet. Not only that, but one in ten is a scammer, 51% of them are already in a relationship, and 3% are psychopaths! Those are some scary stats. So how can you be sure your Mr./Mrs. Right is not an offender?

  2. Rival dating site eHarmony says it already cross-checks its users with public sex offender lists, and that this policy "has allowed us to keep many known registered sex offenders off of our service."

  3. It's been suggested to me that I try online dating. However, I am not really too keen on this as I feel it could be dangerous. I feel that dating sites are a place that sex offenders and potential rapists could lurk, especially as I'm a woman. I'd like to hear rape and assault statistics from online dating.

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