We have become familiar with the turn dating has taken since social media, dating sites and apps became readily available and inexhaustible. It is hard to imagine the numerous ways people use and interact with each other online. Cue the entrance of old school email breakups, catfishing, ghosting, haunting and harassment.
For those unfamiliar with some of the aforementioned terms, let me explain…
What is Catfishing?
Catfish. Noun. Definition: an individual who creates a fake online profile. Catfishing is any online activity where an individual or a group of people deceptively create a false social media profile to trick others into believing they are someone else.
Nev Schulman and the Catfisher
The term “catfishing” intialky became recognisable thanks to the 2010 documentary film and subsequent MTV show, Catfish, starring Nev Schulman an unfortunate catfish victim turned catfish detective. For Yaniv “Nev” Schulman connection with Megan through Facebook was the beginning of a happily-ever-after relationship. Nev’s brother and the brother’s friend documented the budding online romance, but as Nev and Megan continued their relationship, questions arose about the authenticity, or better yet, existence of Megan. As it turns out, Megan, Nev’s Facebook girlfriend didn’t exist. Megan was actually Angela, a married Michigan mum who had several Facebook profiles.
Manti Te’o and the Girlfriend Hoax
Additionally, the catfish term received global coverage during the infamous Manti Te’o “girlfriend hoax” of 2013. NFL linebacker Te’o told media outlets that his grandmother and his girlfriend, Stanford University student Lennay Kekua, had both died on 11 September 2012.
After receiving an anonymous tip early in 2013, reporters Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey of the sports blog Deadspin began investigating the identity of Kekua. On 16 January, the two published an article alleging that Kekua did not exist and that an acquaintance of Te’o, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, was involved in the relationship hoax with Manti. Published pictures of Kekua turned out to be Diane O’Meara, a former senior school peer of Tuiasosopo.
To clear up any suspicition the public had of his involvement, Te’o conducted an interview where he stated his innocence and explained that his relationship with Kekua had exclusively existed online, contradicting reports that Te’o had first met his lady love at a football game.
In an appearance on the TV Show Dr. Phil, Tuiasosopo confessed to the hoax, stating that he had fallen in low with Te’o and created Kekua.
Confusing? Definitely. However, since the eruption of social media, although the term is relatively new, catfishing has become a pastime and escape for many.
What is Ghosting?
If catfishing simply wasn’t enough for online daters to contend with, one of the latest coined terms to define the occasional online dating difficulties is “ghosting.”
Ghosting. Noun. Definition: to cease all forms of communication with a person without an official sign off or goodbye. Similar to a ghost, “one minute they’re there and the next…poof, they’re gone.”
Millenials are Great at Ghosting
According to numerous reports and publications, somewhat understandably, millennials can count ghosting as a prime skill. In a survey conducted by Plenty of Fish, of 800 participants in the US and Canada aged 18 to 33, nearly 80% have been on the receiving end of the infamous ghost; being abruptly dumped by someone who ignores Facebook messages, texts, phone calls and more.
Yesterday it’s Ghosting. Today it’s Haunting.
When you’ve been ghosted, despite any frustration, the end of ‘that’ relationship is in sight. However, there’s a new form of ghosting that can extend frustrations, aptly named “haunting.”
What is Haunting?
Haunting. Noun. Definition: the person who has ghosted you now indirectly interacts with you by ‘liking’ your social posts etc.
Many say that the social channel Snapchat is “ground zero” for this new online dating hurdle. On Snapchat a publisher can see everyone who has viewed stories or snaps, so even though your Prince or Princess Charming may have suddenly acted like you never existed, discretely they are still keeping tabs.
Online Dating Scams
The FBI now warns of the ever increasing scams that occur as a direct result of online dating. The FBI have christened this “Operation Romeo and Juliet.” From older people looking for companionship, to young men and women who like the look of a pretty face, to those in the LGBTQ community or people in long distance ‘relationships,’ anyone can fall victim to online dating scams, so everyone should be warned.
Take Kathy, an 83-year-old woman who wired $23,000 and hocked her jewellery for “Fred,” a civil engineer from Washington who promised marriage is she wired a substantial part of her life savings to Malaysia. According to Kathy’s son Dave Weil, “To this day she thinks this guy is real.”
Where Does all this Lead Us?
Online dating can be rough. With the aforementioned obstacles to either overcome or succumb to, something that already causes people anxiety and stress (or perhaps excitement and elation?), has become an even larger contender in our daily lives.
With so many dating sites, dating apps and social channels, Consumer’s Research surveyed hundreds of online daters to understand dating habits. The results? A majority of women who use these different forms of online dating face harassment, with Tinder and OkCupid having the worst record for such instances. Roughly 39% of Tinder users and 38% of OkCupid users who participated in the survey stated they’d been harassed, with eHarmony having the lowest percentage at 17%.
Online Dating and Sexual Predators
Equally, there is an ongoing dialogue between consumers, creators of dating sites/apps and government agencies about the even darker side of online dating. There’s a darker side than being harassed, you ask? Yes.
At the beginning of March 2015, the National Crime Agency published figures displaying the number of people who reported being raped on a first date with a person they met on a dating app had increased six-fold in five years. Additionally, with the number of sexual assaults going unreported to police, the estimated number of attacks could be much higher than reported.
Earlier this month, a man was found guilty of raping or assaulting seven women he met through the UK’s largest dating site, Match.com. Despite numerous complaints made against Jason Lawrance, Match.com refused to block him as a user because he hadn’t sent any “abusive” messages directly through the site.
However, although there are a number of growing concerns, some online dating sites are attempting to take action against the negative aspects of ‘wired’ dating.
Badoo Launches Photo Verification
How can a dating site or app make online dating safe for all parties? The silent giant of online dating has attempted to alleviate any concern.
Badoo, larger than OkCupid, Match.com, eHarmony and Tinder, wants to make online dating safer. With over 300 million registered users in over 150 countries, on 25 March 2016 Badoo launched photo-verification and verified profiles to eliminate any chnace of users catfishing their fellow customers.
When a Badoo user signs up, they’ll be asked to verify thir profile. There is a loop-hole. Users can choose not to verify their account. However this may mean being excluded from view of other users who only want to match with verified user profiles/
If and when the user chooses to verify their account, Badoo will send them a request for photo asking the individual to perform a precise un -Googleable gesture. And with Badoo’s 5,000 global representatives, a phot can be verified in under a minute. Additionally. Badoo staff will intermittently check a verified user’s account to make sure they aren’t attempting to use photos that aren’t them or owned by them.
Pretty good, right?
Want to Create your own Dating Site or Dating app?
With all that fun stuff said and out the way, have you been thinking about developing your own online dating app or site? There are a few things you must consider before you get going:
- What is the name of the service? Be creative. Have fun/
- Where will you host the service?
- Make sure to register your .com
- Do you have web design experience to build your service? Or will you need to use a template or outsource?
- Is the dating site or app going to be a free or paid service?
- What is the journey you’d like potential customers to take?
- What is your digital marketing plan?
- Who will help create content and publish to your social accounts?
- What is your SEP strategy and the keywords you’d like to target?
- Will you advertise on social media or through Google AdWords to promote your service?