Sex offender dating site
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.
If the US and UK are experiencing the same trends, then online dating is indeed becoming more dangerous.
Then again, they may not be experiencing the same trends.
That’s despite dating advice that stresses the importance of meeting new people in public. A 2016 study of 666 students in Hong Kong found that about half used dating apps, and those who did were twice as likely as non-users to suffer “sexual abuse” of some kind (defined on a scale that included, for example, being coerced into unprotected sex, and rape).
The study didn’t prove that apps led to abuse, the authors wrote, but they found the association “alarming.” They hypothesized that app users might expose themselves more to people who are sexually coercive.
In the US, overall incidents of sexual violence have fallen by 63% since 1993, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
By contrast, the UK’s Office for National Statistics has recorded an increase in sexual assaults since 2012.
In the UK, Match was also implicated in the case of serial rapist Jason Lawrence, who in 2016 was convicted of raping or assaulting seven women he met on the site, after contacting thousands.
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.
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 US, the FBI collects data about so-called romance fraud and about online “sexploitation,” but data about physical assault linked to dating sites is scant.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 trouble is that statistics on crimes linked to online dating are sparse.