Gone are the days when people met each other through their social circles. In today’s digital social ecosystem, most individuals use online methods to date, do business, get involved in a social group or even find a casual relationship.
Sites and apps like eHarmony, Match, Tindr, Meetup, Pod and numerous others have banished the stereotype of online introductions as tacky. Nowadays, I would be surprised if someone said they were not using online methods to meet someone socially. But buyer beware! It is a good thing but not without a few bad apples.
According to a survey published by Statista, 49% of dating app users stated in a January 2019 survey that they were using online dating services in order to find an “exclusive romantic relationship,” while the same percentage of respondents aged 18 to 34 years old had either met a romantic partner through an online dating service or knew someone who has.
The online dating revenue in the United States from 2017 to 2023 is predicted to rise from $555 million to $649 million. If this trend keeps up, imagine the landscape in the next few decades.
We are all so busy these days that we don’t want to waste time meeting the wrong people. We want to be as efficient as possible and squeeze in as much in our social calendars, including dating and social meetups with new people — and this is one of the most significant factors driving the popularity of online social meetups. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 61% of people believe online dating is easier and more efficient than other ways of meeting people.
Using online services to meet someone offers an effective solution to society’s time issue. Swiping through profiles is not nearly as time-consuming as mixing with people in a social context. According to Psychology Today, one in five relationships begin online, and it’s estimated that 70% of people will have met their significant other online by 2040.
In 2014, the FBI reported that close to 6,000 romance scam complaints were made, with losses totaling $86 million. The FBI disclosed that the most common scams involved spam and identity theft. I believe it’s time to take notice, as there are bad characters who prey on vulnerable and naïve users.
Furthermore, there have been reports and accusations of physical dangers, including sexual crimes and murder. According to a report from Sky News, there was a 382% increase in reported crimes related to online dating in the U.K. between 2011 and 2016. There are plenty of websites claiming to verify their members in some way, but the fact remains a good many do not verify their members at all.
Still, the industry continues to grow. Statista notes that “revenue in the online dating segment amounts to $1.958 billion in 2019” and that “revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2019-2023) of 6.0%, resulting in a market volume of $2.471 billion by 2023.”
We need to reestablish the basic human requirement of trust in relationships. However, in this case, the trust needs to be between the human user and a digital company.
Out of 1,500 registered dating apps, more than 60% of them, possess medium- or high-risk security vulnerabilities, according to a research paper published by IBM Security. The paper cites phishing scams, fraudulent billing, account takeovers and GPS tracking as the top risks. Can you imagine a potentially violent person having access to this information?
Some of the basics of protecting data should include protecting your source code with up-to-date algorithms and API encryption with SSL (secure socket layer) or TLS (transport layer security). Security measures for the network connections are a must, and data storage should be in a regularly tested encrypted container.
ID verification would be a smart and innovative solution for verifying legitimate identities and authenticating profiles. Bumble and Wild are great examples, as they require all users to upload a photo of themselves in one of 100 poses to begin interaction. This data is verified manually. Verification technologies prevent catfishing, increase user confidence and build digital trust with a database of robust verified profiles.
Verification providers can use publicly available data from government sources and official records to verify a person and, many times, can assign a risk score to the identity. A risk score creates a trusting environment for safe online interactions.
If you’re looking to implement ID verification, here are some things you’ll want to consider:
1. Only use official and verified data sources. Make sure not to use any data sources that aren’t valid and certified, as per the compliance requirements of your country or state. Appropriate sources include motor vehicle records, voting registries, utilities databases and corporate registries. These databases must not only be official and verified, but also regularly updated to ensure legitimacy and accuracy.
2. Use multiple sources. Be sure to check multiple sources when verifying identities. This information should match up across at least two databases to produce strong matches.
3. Verify your provider. Choose an identity verification provider with integrity. Research and verify the company you will trust to verify your clients and customers. Make sure that these identity providers properly handle data from users, have encrypted verification methods and can provide you with accurate false-positive rates.
Our digital world has no plans to stop the continuous penetration into our social and personal lives. We can safely assume that sooner than later, digital social interactions will be a norm in all parts of life. We must foster the idea of digital trust if we wish to continue down this path successfully.
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