Tips to Prevent Online Harassment and Stalking When Dating
It’s important for everyone to know these easy tips to prevent online harassment and stalking. While we would love to tell you that online harassment and stalking is 100% preventable, sadly it is not. Cases like it happen every single day.
Let’s take a look at an example of what could happen. You met Ted on a dating app or maybe even in real life and exchanged phone numbers with him. You go out on a date and it doesn’t go well. You delete his number and forget about him. A week later you’re surprised to see that you have a new friend request on Facebook or see a notification that you have a new follower on Instagram. Who is it? It’s Ted. Super creepy, right?? How did he find you? Well, Ted didn’t have to do much of anything. He likely saw you as a friend suggestion on his Facebook or as a person to follow on Instagram. He follows you and starts sending you messages or commenting on your Instagram posts (easier to do if you have a public profile). You have to block him. That’s pretty easy to do on both Facebook and Instagram, however, this doesn’t need to get to this point in the first place. While the example above is not anything to be too worried about, it’s still unnerving.
So how do you prevent a situation like this? Remove access to your contacts for the Facebook, Whatsapp, and Instagram apps on your phone. While we would recommend you remove these apps from your phone entirely, that’s not always possible. At the very least, remove the ability for these apps to access your contacts. All three apps can use your contact information to suggest new friends or followers (see here how Facebook suggests friends).
You’ll likely be going on a number of dates and exchanging quite a few numbers during your dating life. You shouldn’t have to worry about something like this… ever. Make sure you give your dates the red flag dating test too.
So now the next question is, what are some other tips to prevent online harassment and stalking? Here ya go:
- If you have a unique name, don’t use that when you sign up on a dating app. Use a nickname if possible. It’s a lot easier to Google someone with a unique name vs. a common one.
- When you add a bio to your dating profile, make sure you don’t include the name of the company you work for. This will make it harder for someone to find you on LinkedIn or using Google.
- Make sure your privacy settings on Facebook don’t allow you to be found by searching your name through their search and also through search engines.
- Keep your Instagram or Twitter private (if possible)
- Don’t exchange numbers quickly. Use Skype or a comparable app to video call if video calling capabilities are unavailable on the app. There are also apps like Burner that allow you to use a burner phone number. It may be worth it for your peace of mind.
- If you have been tracked down by someone on a dating app, make sure you tell the police especially if they’ve contacted you in person. Take screenshots of what they’ve sent, tell family and/or friends, block them everywhere you can.
We don’t want to scare anyone into not online or real dating. But it’s important to know the risks when you do and how to keep yourself safe from any unwanted harassment and/or stalking IRL and virtually.
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