Love stricken or data stricken! Why dating apps are the new found love of scammers? – Brand Wagon News | #whatsapp | #lovescams | #phonescams

Furthermore, post the introduction of the DPDP Act in India, the process of collecting and storing data is expected to go through a sea of change. Are these players ready? 

Finding love! 

To be sure, when a user joins any dating app, he or she is required to to fill in a set of information. This includes personal identifiable information including  name, date of birth, and gender, besides  their likes and dislikes. After finding a match users typically interact with each other though voice call, messages or video calls. It is believed that most of these apps end up saving all detail. “Dating apps users  are free to decide for themselves who to pursue. According to their interests, preference and the mutual chemistry they connect,” Sybil Shiddell, country manager, Gleeden, said.

While some individuals may be hesitant to share extensive information, many still utilise dating apps to receive relevant suggestions for finding a suitable match. Dating apps, interestingly, claim that the algorithm is designed in such a way that it is able to find a match even if a user provides limited information “Our algorithms are tuned to suggest matches based on the user’s age range and location preferences. We understand that users’ choice changes from time to time and their requirements are usually broad when they sign up,” Ravi Mittal, founder and CEO, QuackQuack, explained. Furthermore, these apps add that the algorithm does not discriminate between a paid and a free user but the latter’s profile does get a boost. 

Love for AI

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in company operations has been on the rise, and dating apps are no exception. These apps leverage AI and ML to enhance  functionalities. For instance, these apps use  such technologies to analyse user preferences, optimise matching algorithms, and deliver a more personalised user experience. “We are primarily using machine learning and AI to detect fake profiles and avoid potential spammers from creating accounts. We have been effective in banning 90% of such profiles within seconds of profile creation,” Mittal said. 

Moreover, fraud is another, where these apps claim that AI plays a crucial role.  By leveraging advanced algorithms and machine learning, AI can discern patterns associated with fraudulent behaviour., “We use AI in our apps and other digital products to detect and monitor fraudulent activities and behaviours. In the case of any malicious activities, or detection of any anomaly, AI systems alert the relevant teams and authorities in real-time thus decreasing the response time to threatsA,” Singh said.

For the love of data 

After the pandemic 63% daters in the US said that finding romantic relationships has become harder, as per a recent study by Auro, a data-safety solution provider. Yet two out of 10 Americans use dating apps. The report further stated scammers target online dating services to commit identity theft and financial fraud. In fact, 50% of Americans who have used a dating app in the past five years have experienced catfishing, which is more than double from 24% over five years ago. “I believe that the issue of misusing users’ data is a crucial topic in the tech industry particularly in dating apps. Users often provide personal information to personalise their dating experience. However, the same data, if and when misused by dating app companies, can cause significant damage to the reputation and self-esteem of its users,” Saurabh Singh, director and  chairman, Appinventiv, said. 

To be sure, there are a variety of ways scammers can mis-use the data on these apps ranging from identity theft to phishing information. In case of identity theft, the scammer creates a fake profile. Typically an existing social media or dating profile is lifted. These fake attractive profiles are also known as catfishing. Once he or she  matches, the scammer quickly moves the relationship forward. They’ll quickly express their love and ask her to communicate off of the dating app and instead use Snapchat, WhatsApp, or Telegram. “I heard of a recent data breach that was reported in July 2023. This incident exposed the personal details of 2.3 million users. Personally identifiable information such as names, account numbers, emails and passwords were compromised resulting in a massive outcry regarding the enhanced safety of user data,” Singh, highlighted.  

In India, with the roll out of Digital Personal Data Protection Act 2023, much of this is expected to go through a sea of change. The bill mandates online companies to protect their users’ data and comply with the bill’s mandate. One such mandate is deletion of data once its intended purpose has been fulfilled. “ With concepts such as data fiduciaries, it will be important to seek consent. Also, especially if these platforms decide to monetise user data. Also, in a situation where users have deleted their personal data, there should be a mechanism for them to reach out to these platforms, asking these apps to delete data from any third party platform,” the media analyst explained. 

Quack Quack claims to have created a 12-step screening process for all new profiles including usage of machine learning and AI and a strong moderation team that works 24×7.  “We also go to the extent of masking the numbers shared until we are confident of the interaction,” Mittal explained. While Gleeden claims to have created one of the strictest moderation policies of the industry. The app claims that pictures too are investigated to verify that they are not taken somewhere on some website but are real photographs. 

For the love of money! 

Over the years, dating apps have diversified revenue streams and it includes in-app purchases, subscription, and advertisements. For instance, 

Gleedens runs a subscription plan  called Gleeden+, which allows subscribers to have 110 credits every month and an extra 10% off for every additional purchase. Gleeden+ cost Rs 3,000 monthly. “Male users must use credits to access our services, therefore the percentage of paying users is the same as the male members’ who subscribed to the platform. We have over 11 million active users worldwide, of which 60% are men; this means that 60% of our users pay for the service,” Shiddell explained.

Quack Quack’s subscription plan starts from Rs 299 to Rs 980 for  a month,  as it  tests different prices and promotions. Subscriptions are available  for one, six, and 12 months. “We  spent approximately  Rs 1.06 crore in September, 2023 on advertising to acquire users. We targeted audiences  who are single between the age of  20-40 years,” Mittal added. 

Individuals residing alone in bustling metropolitan areas, distanced from friends. The dating app further claims most of its paid subscribers are from metro cities but this is changing gradually with users from tier-2 cities too paying for it.  In terms of geography, West and South of India, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka account for a high concentration of paid subscribers within the the age group of 25-35 years old. Interestingly, almost 100% of the paying users are male users, the app claimed.  

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