From Tinder to Thrill to Grouper and Grindr, dating apps are some of the most popular social developments to hit mobile devices in recent memory.
The ease and speed by which people can anonymously judge and ogle the value of their peers as a potential partner or hookup has rarely been easier. Especially when a user can simply read a sentence or two of description, swipe through a couple pictures and decide interest in the span of seconds.
However, the same ease and anonymity that has attracted so many users to dating apps has also attracted the attention of individuals who take advantage of the app’s anonymity and superficial identification to prey on the large user base.
Grindr-related crimes have been springing up throughout the country, according to a recent story by Vocativ. A victim comes in contact with a stranger through the mobile app and arranges a meetup only to be mugged, attacked or sexually assaulted.
Reports of men in Philadelphia, Seattle and Delaware being mugged, sexually assaulted or beaten by strangers they’d met through Grindr have led websites like the Gaily Grind and Queerty to publish tip sheets on mobile dating and has even spurred Grindr to release its own set of safety policies on its website.
However, the surge of crime and news on Grindr may be no different from what you’d find on other dating apps.
While fear of strangers should never deter you from meeting people, there are precautions you should take before meeting with someone you’ve met through a dating app.
Whenever you get a message from someone on a dating app, it’s highly suggested you verify their existence on other social media and try to look up more about them as an actual individual and not just someone’s dummy account.
Don’t rush things or be rushed by someone met through a dating app and only share a location when you’re comfortable with the other person.
It’s always a good idea to keep friends informed about people you’ve been talking to through a mobile app. Tell them where you’ll be if you do decide to meet a digital acquaintance.
If an individual is making you feel distinctly uncomfortable or otherwise harassing you for personal information online, there’s a chance they’ll do so to others and should be blocked or reported to authorities.
Avoid excessive sharing early on:
This should go without saying, but be very careful about the information you share online that might be used to track you or otherwise indicate a location for stalkers.
[A version of this story ran on page 9 on 5/22/2014 under the headline "Hookup apps a big risk for a little fun, so follow tips for safety"]