Mobile dating app could have dangerous consequences

Meeting people in Halifax just got a little easier, and perhaps a bit scarier, with the emergence of the mobile dating app called Tinder.

By Sara Connors

Julia Brougham on the Tinder app, though she no longer uses it.  (Sara Connors/Peninsula News)
Julia Brougham on the Tinder app, though she no longer uses it. (Sara Connors/Peninsula News)

Meeting people in Halifax just got a little easier, and perhaps a bit scarier, with the emergence of the mobile dating app called Tinder.

Released in late 2012, Tinder uses Facebook to allow users to scan through profile photos of other users and if both parties “like” each other’s photo they can chat through the app’s private texting feature. It also lists mutual friends users have in common.

The company claims there are over 100 million users worldwide and the Globe and Mail reported that even athletes at the Sochi Winter Olympics were using it. 

The app has taken off in Halifax in the last few month, while also raising questions about privacy and personal safety.

Security

Though matched users can chat within Tinder and not share any contact information, Mail Online reports in October security firm IncludeSec discovered that it could pinpoint a user’s exact location.

By sending latitude and longitude and coordinates of possible matches to the iOS client, a user’s whereabouts could be discovered causing a major security threat, Mail Online reported.

Hooking up

Tinder can be used for dating, although users are also free to trawl through photos of others without contacting them. One user, Julia Brougham, found that others were simply looking to “hook up.”

Brougham downloaded the app for fun but later deleted it. She says other users made her feel uncomfortable as they would repeatedly ask her to have sex.

“It’s entertaining at first, but then it gets really creepy and when [other users] don’t leave you alone,” says Brougham.

“Some people on there are so sketchy and they’re like, ’Come over and have sex’. I’d be scared I’d get raped.’

Tinder has been accused of promoting casual sex as users frequently “hook-up” with others that they met on the app. Sean Rad, the Chief Executive Officer of Tinder, said, “the word ‘dating’ doesn’t even mean shit to us. What does that even mean?” in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek.

Caleb Atkins met his current girlfriend, Shelby Dickeson on the app. Yet, he says he probably wouldn’t use it for future dating because he says too many users are using it for what he feels could be dangerous casual sex.

“The thought of hooking-up was pretty sketchy. I read a few profiles and they seem like nice people from what they wrote, but you can’t really go by that,” says Atkins.

Dickeson says she was weary of the app as well. “It’s superficial. All you do is judge people on their looks. All it’s used for is hook-ups.”

Yet, after the two matched, they began texting through the app. However, Dickeson waited two months before she agreed to meet Atkins and their first encounter was in a restaurant.

Const. Pierre Bourdages, spokesman for Halifax Regional Police, says they haven’t received any complaints related to the app. But he says users should be cautious.

“You have to be cognizant of what you’re posting online. Not everyone is who they say they are.You have to be careful because it’s there forever,” he says.

If users do choose to meet, Bourdages recommends they should do so in a public setting.

Tinder’s website doesn’t provide any safety suggestions, just a thorough legal disclaimer.

Tinder – #ItStartsHere from Tinder on Vimeo.