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Secure Use of Dating Apps - What should I look out for when I use them?

Secure Use of Dating Apps -
What should I look out for when I use them?

Nowadays, the smartphone (or tablet) is an indispensable part of our daily lives. This development has also been noticed by many online dating providers. New apps concerning love and dating come out on an almost daily basis in the online app stores.

With one or two taps, a new dating app is instantly installed and ready to use. But have you ever thought about what kind of effect using an app can have on your security and data protection? In our experience, there is a lot of ignorance when it comes to dating app users. We would therefore like to give you a bit of advice so that your dating experience with apps doesn’t turn into something nasty.

A possible worst case scenario could be as follows:

John and Dating Apps

John would like to meet someone new and has already heard from a couple of friends that dating app XYZ is perfect for meeting women quickly. So he goes onto the app store with his smartphone, searches the dating app by name and installs it. With his Facebook profile, the login is particularly fast.

A little while later he receives a strange flyer in the post and gets peculiar advertisements on his Facebook. Many of them are aimed at where he lives, as well as his employer. A few days later, a Facebook friend of his asks why John sent him a message with just a link to a diet program. The friend is angry. John has no idea what could have happened.

What John didn’t look at when downloading the dating app was the “access permissions” of the app. He allowed the app, with a single click, to access his social network and his location. So the app can now create a detailed map of where John has been, as well as find out where he works and that he regularly goes to a particular gym. Additionally, the app his aware of a few of his hobbies.

With this data and other personal entries such as first and last name, address, telephone number etc., the app can get up to quite a lot, including selling such data to a third party.

Dating Apps: The Case of Access Permissions

We recently conducted a survey regarding the 10 most popular dating apps that have been created for Android devices. Through this we discovered that 75 percent of apps, including Lovoo, Badoo and Tinder, can access photos, media and data on your smartphone. Would you ordinarily allow a stranger off the street to go through your own photo album? Probably not. The results of this analysis can also be read in our study.

Just Some Advice Before You Install a Dating App...

  • Only download apps from trustworthy sources. ITunes and the Google Playstore, which supply iOS and Android apps, are a good choice.
  • Before you decide to install a dating app, take a look at the exact access permissions the app requires. Weigh out whether or not access to this app really is worth granting access to your text message, storage, contacts, etc. Perhaps there is an alternative to this app.
  • Trust your instinct. Does an app have a rating at the Google Playstore? If not, then preferably wait one or two weeks before you download it.
  • With dating apps there is always a rule: the app is usually quite popular at first, but the flurry dies down after a while.
  • Install a virus scanner on your smartphone. Like on a computer, a security app will scan everything before the actual installation of the app onto your smartphone.

What You Should Look Out for When Registering for Dating Apps

  • If the dating app only offers registrations via Facebook or Twitter, then see if there is a desktop version of the provider. Most dating platforms offer an alternative possibility to register via email. If this isn’t the case, for example with Tinder, consider the following tip: Create a new Facebook profile only for your dating activity.
  • Deactivate the GPS function and activate it only when you are using the dating app (or any other GPS-based app).
  • Use various different passwords for both dating apps and other Internet services so that the phishing risks are minimized. Try to create a password that you can remember easily (like through the use of a memory aid). For example, take the sentence: Try to Safely Online Date. Shorten it to beginning initials: TTSOD. In order to strengthen the password, add something else to it such as a number (perhaps the year or the month that you registered with the dating app). With 20TTSOD16, you have created your password.
  • Be a little hesitant in just handing over personal data when you register with a dating app. If you do happen to stumble upon interesting people, there is another way to get to know them better.
  • Deactivate the “automatic update” function on every app. You will therefore have control over which new access permissions an app requires you to use when the update comes.

Found new love – now what happens with the app?

  • If you have signed up for a premium membership on a dating app, remember to read the terms and conditions BEFORE you decide to uninstall the app. By deleting an app, you DO NOT automatically unsubscribe and cancel your payment.
  • If you no longer use a dating app (because you’ve found a partner, for example), then make sure to deactivate your profile on the app first before you delete it.
  • Don’t forget - if you signed up with the app through Facebook- to delete the access permissions on Facebook as well.

How to Remove Apps from Facebook

Login to Facebook with your details. Click the top right corner on the small triangle. Now choose "Settings".

Facebook settings
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 Now a new page will open. Click on the point that says “Apps”.

Facebook apps
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Here you will now find all of the apps that have access to your Facebook account, in a list.

Facebook app list
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With one click on the app you wish to remove, a pop-up will open with all of the access permissions that the dating app has.

Facebook app access
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A more important point here is the app visibility. With this point you can determine which group of people on Facebook can see if you use the app. The safest option is “Only Me”.

In this list you will see all information that the dating app has “taken” from your Facebook Account.
In order to withdraw the dating app’s access to your Facebook account, simply click on the X next to the name of the application. With a click on “remove” you delete all of the access permissions on your Facebook account.

Facebook app delete
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What exactly do we know about the use of dating apps? Apps are downloaded quickly and deleted again just as fast if we don’t like them – but are you aware of what happens to your data?

In our investigation, we have dealt with the subject and have examined the most popular dating apps and their user access permissions.

We therefore wish you an enlightening read that brings insight.

Henning Wiechers
has been observing the UK dating market since 2007. He is among the top opinion leaders in the industry.

Any questions...?
Contact him!