RESEARCH has found 31% of South Africans used online dating, thus exposing themselves to the ugly truth that looking for “the one” online comes with fake information, photos, malicious links, and scammers.
According to Russian multinational cyber security and antivirus provider Kaspersky Lab, the risks are “insurmountable”, because people generally fake their personal information.
Recent research found 62% of locals admitted to lying while dating online – they faked information to make themselves look better than in real life, or to catch their partners cheating.
The percentage of untruths people on these sites concocted to get a date included 54% using misleading photos, and 59% lying about their age, 35% lying about their marital status, 29% about their profession, 23% about their relationship expectations, 16% about their place of work, 14% about their sexual habits and 13% about their wealth.
The research found that those who looked for their soulmates on dating platforms such as Tinder, Bumble, OK Cupid and Badoo were in the minority at 10%, compared to the 50% using it for fun, while another 19% used it to extract sexual favours.
But fake data also put off some people, with one in five admitting to have been put off by false photos, and one in 10 by fake relationship expectations and the dishonest relationship statuses.
Some said they felt threatened by scammers and were afraid for their online security. About 17% had encountered scammers who tried to extort personal or financial information by sending malicious links to infect their devices. And those who created lies to get a date posed more of a risk to security.
Head of consumer business at Kaspersky, Andrei Mochola, said online dating was a tool to connect people, but it was not a great way of meeting people as there were a lot of scammers and people who lied to get dates lurking there.
“Online dating is a great way of meeting new people in our connected and busy online world, and it’s easy to see why one in three are doing it. But it isn’t all plain sailing, and those looking for their soulmates online encountered a large amount of false information, scammers or people with ulterior motives in the process,” Mochola said.
“The sheer number of people lying, for example, by trying to make themselves look better or more attractive than they really were, highlights how users are exploiting digital services to filter and warp information online in a way that isn’t possible in the physical world.
“Like every popular online trend, unfortunately there are people that want to use online dating for malicious purposes.
“But far from advising users to avoid online dating altogether, we simply urge them to consider their safety at every step of the way.
“A heightened awareness, accompanied with an adaptive security solution, that can respond to different situations and work to protect every device used for dating from online threats, is the best way to start,” Mochola said.