College dating app survival guide

Cassandra Tweed | The Spectrum

How students can stay safe in the world of online dating

Dating apps have become the main source of finding love in today’s society. Though there are many stories showcasing how people find their significant other through apps like Tinder and Bumble, there are also somber stories as well as highlighting the potential risks of sharing your personal information with strangers.

One such story is when Grace Millane, a British woman, was murdered after she met a man on Tinder in Dec. 2018. The story, which was featured in “The Conversation,” discussed some of the flaws in Tinder’s safety features.

Since safety violations through online dating apps have been brought to attention in recent years, Tinder has introduced new safety features including a panic button which sends an alert to law enforcement so they can provide emergency assistance in case something goes wrong when meeting someone for the first time.

How much the new safety features will protect users is still questionable as “The Conversation” said that Tinder doesn’t actively enforce the Terms of Use that allows accounts to be deleted if they engage in harassment. Though Tinder continues to listen to concerns regarding safety, there are still features that can be worked on.

When discussing the potential dating app violence on a campus setting, Gennifer Baker, a North Dakota State Campus Police Officer, talked about how students can stay safe when using dating apps.

Baker first said that students should be cautious. “I think it’s just being careful of what personal information you give them. Especially before you meet the person.”

“I would say meet the person sooner rather than later so you can kind of get that feeling off of them, obviously make sure that are who they say they are,” Baker said.

Making sure the person matches their profile picture when you meet with them is important in determining whether you are being catfished.

“Sometimes if it’s too good to be true, even if it sounds like a great guy or a great girl, it might just be somebody playing you.”

Gennifer Baker, Campus Police and Safety Officer

“But then, of course, take precaution when you go to meet someone. Make sure its always in public, tell somebody that you’re going so maybe they can check on you and text you while you’re there so you can even have an out if it’s kind of awkward.”

If meeting with someone on campus, Baker said that campus police are the people to call if something goes wrong on the date.

When asked if campus police are planning on holding training dealing with online dating safety, Baker said that as of right now, they don’t hold training pertaining to staying safe when using the apps.

“At any time if people request us to do presentations, whether that’s departments, student groups or residence halls, we could come in and do whatever presentation topics they want us to talk about,” Baker said.

Baker sees that people are becoming more aware of the possible safety risks of using dating apps, but there are also those who don’t think anything bad can happen to them.

Baker compared it to scamming awareness saying, “I think that obviously with the media and stories getting out there it’s just like the scam stuff. We’ve heard it a bunch of times, but then there’s still people that are falling for it.”

Baker went on to say that everyone should think it through before meeting someone. “Sometimes if it’s too good to be true, even if it sounds like a great guy or a great girl, it might just be somebody playing you.”

“You still have to be cautious especially when it comes to something personal,” Baker said. “Don’t get complacent to it or think it doesn’t happen here in Fargo.”

Whether it is easier to catch people causing crime on dating apps, Baker said it depends. “Most people are pretty honest and aren’t trying to lie to people,” Baker added that a lot of times people aren’t trying to catfish others, but it may seem that way when they lie about one quality to make themselves feel better.

“Sometimes things might not go the way you wanted them to go, so you might think that they were trying to deceive you. It just depends on the severity of what the person is trying to hide,” Baker said.

Baker also said that she offers a self-defense class for a woman called RAD. The class is offered once a semester for one credit and covers some of the basic self-defense moves for any self-defense situations one may find themselves in. Female students interested in taking the self-defense class can sign up through Campus Connection or can contact Gennifer Baker with questions.

Anyone wanting to report safety violations on campus can contact campus police at their Text-A-Tip line or go to the University Police Safety Office.

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