Badoo Launches Photo Verification for Safer Dating

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Badoo Photo Verification

How do you know if that cute guy you matched with on your dating app is really who he says he is? The hard truth is – you don’t, at least until you meet in person.

One consistent issue with online dating (and social media in general) has been users setting up fake profiles. Often, these fake profiles are used for catfishing – or targeting and scamming other users or members of the same service. Online dating site Badoo has decided to address the problem with its own newly-launched photo and profile verification system.

Many online daters in the U.S. have heard of OkCupid or Tinder, but they haven’t heard of Badoo. Despite this, it is a global giant in the online dating industry with 300 million registered users in over 190 countries, bigger than all of the popular U.S. dating services – even Tinder. Plus, the company has 400,000 signups every day, mostly in Europe and South America.

According to Badoo, the new verification system will hopefully eliminate catfishing from the service altogether. When a new user signs up, they are asked to verify their profile. Badoo then sends them a request for a photo – and the new user has to perform a specific gesture that Badoo assigns. (The company notes that it is a unique and specific gesture, not a common one like a “thumbs-up.”) Badoo will then make sure it's you by looking at the other photos on your profile along with the unique pose. You may even be asked to do another pose. The whole process takes less than a minute since the company has 5,000 moderators worldwide checking them out, so it’s pretty efficient.

If a user chooses not to verify a photo, they could be excluded from other users’ views who only want to connect with verified profiles.

The new verification system is another step in Badoo’s strategy to appeal to female online daters. With the verification system, Badoo intends for female daters to feel more secure in signing up and using the service, since they are often the ones who are targeted with fake profiles and messages.

This seems to be a strategic move. The company recently bought popular female-centric dating app Lulu, where women rate the men they date for other women, as a referral or warning system, depending on how you look at it. Badoo’s head Andrey Andreev hired Lulu’s founder Alexandra Chong as President of Badoo, and the company intends to set up a U.S. office to attract more of a presence in the States. According to TechCrunch Andreev also has invested in Bumble, another female-friendly dating app.

The new version of Badoo is available in the iTunes store, Google Play, and the Windows store.

Reports Of Rape Linked To Online Dating On The Rise

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Reports of online dating-related rape have risen by more than 450 percent in six years, according to the UK's National Crime Agency.

Between 2009 and 2014, the number of reports of serious sexual assaults during first face-to-face meetings following initial contact online rose in the UK from 33 to 184 – a nearly sixfold increase. With around seven million UK residents currently using dating sites, that number is a small fraction of total online encounters – but its growth is still a reminder that safety is an important concern when dating online.

“Early analysis indicates that the online dating phenomenon has produced a new type of sexual offender,” reads the NCA's report on the subject. “These offenders are less likely to have criminal convictions, but instead exploit the ease of access and arm-chair approach to dating websites. This is aided by potential victims not thinking of them as strangers, but someone they have got to know.”

Becaue online relationships tend to progress more quickly than those that begin offline, online daters often have a heightened (and misleading) sense of emotional intimacy. By the time they meet in real life, they falsely believe they are at a more advanced stage of the relationship than they really are. In turn, they are comfortable taking more risks than they normally would and can find themselves in vulnerable situations. That, the NCA posits, is why attacks are most often committed during the first face-to-face meetings.

Looking deeper at the stats, the majority of the victims were women. Eighty-five percent of those reporting rapes were female and 15 percent were men. In spite of safety warnings issued by dating services, police and rape-prevention groups, many opt not to hold their first dates in public spaces. As a result, 71% of the alleged rapes were committed at the victim's or offender's residence.

The National Crime Agency strongly emphasized that the increased risk associated with certain online dating behaviors does not mean blame should be placed on victims.

"A rape victim is never at fault and we do not want the circumstances in which these assaults take place to cause any victim to doubt that," said Sean Sutton, Head of the NCA's Serious Crimes Analysis Section. "Sexual assault is a crime, full stop, and we want victims to feel confident reporting it to the police."

For more information on preventing rape and sexual assault in an online dating context, the NCA recommends visiting Get Safe Online, an initiative supported by the government. The initiative's extenstive guidelines can help daters stay safe when meeting face-to-face.

A Valentine's Day Lesson In Avoiding Online Dating Scammers

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Valentine's Day brings a mix of emotions. For loved up couples, it's a time of warm feelings and sappy Facebook posts. For some singles, it's a time of proud independence. For others, it's a season of heartbreak. And for some, Valentine's Day brings a heartbreak of a different kind.

Online dating websites typically see a surge around Cupid's big day – one that isn't just about finding a mate. The love-centric holiday is the perfect time for scammers to tug on the heartstrings (and purse strings) of naïve victims.

"Especially right before Valentine's Day people start to get a little more antsy trying to find a date,” Emily Bartz told Fox59. “There's kind of a rush and that makes it really easy for scammers to get a hold on victims and try to get money or their information.”

With Valentine's Day 2016 in the recent past, the subject of online dating scams has been big in the news. Bartz published an article on NextAdvisor that details three kinds of online dating scammers and the red flags you should watch for.

Up first are the survey scammers, who typically match with as many people as possible and begin coversations by inquiring about their match's experience using that particular dating service. “Once they’ve convinced their match that they are simply a fellow dater who is curious about other’s experiences with the service or are an employee of that service,” writes Bartz, “they are able to establish a level of trust that leads to victims unknowing giving out personal information, like their phone number, home address or payment information.”

Bartz cautions daters to be wary of anyone who asks them to participate in some type of survey. The word “survey” itself may appear, or the scammer may ask questions more subtly. Ignore queries about your opinion of the dating service and other users, as well as requests for account or personal info.

Up next are identity thieves. This type of scam is often discussed, particularly by critics of online dating, and is one of the most difficult to recognize. An identity thief can invest months in a victim before completing their scam.

An honest dater and an identity thief can sound confusingly alike. To tell them apart, Bartz recommends watching out for affection that comes on too strong, too early – especially if it's followed by personal questions. The scammer is trying to build a false sense of romance and rapport as quickly as possible. “Identity thieves residing on online dating sites are often very charming and know just what to say to their matches to get them to hand over everything they need to steal their identity,” Bartz warns.

Your best bet to unmask an identity thief is to suggest meeting offline (if, assuming it isn't a scammer, you're ready to take your relationship to that level). A scammer will usually refuse or avoid an in-person meeting, while a real suitor will be thrilled at the prospect.

End The Uncertainty Of Online Dating With BeenVerified's Background Checks

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Your latest date loves movies, thinks soccer is the greatest sport in the world, and is dying to travel to Tanzania. But what do you really know about them?

Before meeting any online date in the real world, you need to feel comfortable. You want to know they're not going to be a con artist or a serial killer or secretly married. Founded in 2007, BeenVerified is a service that allows you to run background checks, which is ideal for checking out your dates.

BeenVerified is a one stop shop that searches a variety of records to bring you the most complete background checks possible. Using it is easy, fast and affordable, eliminating the need for multiple websites or in-person visits to courthouses and other government buildings. A BeenVerified search combs multiple sources and organizes the results into a clear, easy to understand report for your convenience.

Background check services have flourished in the age of digital dating, but BeenVerified offers one of the most comprehensive available. Records are searched across a wide variety of categories, including criminal history, relatives, addresses and property, names and aliases, phone numbers, and social networking accounts.

One of BeenVerified's most unique features is AlertMe, which monitors public record changes and sends alerts when updates are found. You're saved the tedious tasking of having to stay on top of the data yourself. Another special offering, available for an additional fee, is the Live Court Runner service, which dispatches a court runner to county court houses to obtain real-time criminal records.

Use of the site isn't free, but a variety of subscription options are available to suit different needs and budgets. Subscriptions can be purchased for one month, three months or six months. Each comes with unlimited: contact information, phone lookups, property address lookups, email lookups, criminal court lookups, and bankruptcy lookups. More advanced features can be purchased separately.

Once your report has been compiled, it can be accessed from your BeenVerified dashboard. Simply log into the site, select the report you'd like to view, and navigate using the table of contents on the lefthand side. You can view, download, or print your purchased reports at any time.

BeenVerified also offers free mobile apps for an on-the-go experience. An iOS app is available for iPhones and iPads, as well as an Android app and an app for Apple Watch. You could be mid-dinner with a date and run a check to help put your mind at ease. Staring at your smartphone isn't usually encouraged during dinner, but if it saves you from a dating disaster, you get a pass.

By merging public records into a single report, BeenVerified alleviates the need to visit county clerks, search multiple websites, and pay hundreds of dollars to find the information you need to make the dating process carefree and fun. For more information on this service please read our BeenVerified review.

Could Dating App The Grade Improve Online Dating Behavior?

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The Grade

Online daters – especially women – often complain about unwanted and lude messages they get from potential matches on dating apps. Some guys are so aggressive with initial contact that they send intimate photos of themselves - the so-called “d*ck pic” - which is offensive to many women, if not even a bit scary. But there is little control dating apps have over messages between two people who swiped right and started communicating, which is why many find it such a frustrating experience.

Dating app The Grade aims to change that. Back in October, they launched the controversial “Peer Review” feature on their dating app, essentially letting other users provide direct feedback for online and offline experiences with other singles on the app.  This move was met with skepticism, with some wondering if angry and jilted matches might lash out and tarnish the reputation of someone else on the site, simply because there was no third party witness. Essentially, users could say whatever they wanted about a date.

The Grade surveyed its users to see how they actually felt about the new feature, and according to the company’s findings, 71% of people believe that Peer Review helps weed out the creeps.

Case in point: the majority of The Grade’s female users believe Peer Review provides a safer and better-informed dating experience. And according to a statement released from the company… it finally eliminates the "d*ck pics." Of the 11% of men who admitted to sending an unsolicited photo of their private parts, 90% reported that they would stop if they knew a match could review them.

Could this lead to better dating behavior – knowing that other people are watching and reviewing you?

It seems likely. The Peer Review feature provides feedback from other singles, mainly to help inform users’ decisions to swipe right or left. In fact, The Grade reports that 78% of singles are more likely to “like” (or swipe right) someone with a good Peer Review grade, while 88% are less likely to “like” someone with a bad Peer Review grade.

Ninety-five percent of The Grade’s users are pro-Peer Review, and 85% of the 15,000 peer reviews submitted so far have been positive. Results show that the most common reason a user would give someone a negative review is if that person was already in an existing relationship or lied about their profile details.

Despite the controversy, The Grade might be on to something – accountability for behavior in online dating. That is something most of us can get behind.

New Dating App Blume Claims to Solve the Catfishing Problem

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There’s a new dating app on the market, and this one puts safety first in a big way. Blume has just launched an app that claims to solve the catfishing problem in online dating.

If you’ve been online dating, you’re probably familiar with the term catfishing. It happens when one online dater tries to deceive another online dater by lying about who he is, his intentions, even his photos and Facebook profile. Usually, people trying to “catfish” other online daters are trying to gain access to financial or personal information, taking advantage of someone else’s vulnerability.

Many dating apps have tried to address the problem by providing “verification” of some sort for everyone who joins a website, usually by having you sign up with your Facebook profile. But some have managed to get around the restrictions, taking advantage of other online daters by sending fake pictures and messages.

Blume has gone one step further by making verification part of the communication process. When you are ready to message someone you mutually “like” (similar to Tinder’s swipe), you cannot proceed without first taking a selfie in that moment. Only when both matches take and send the selfie so each can compare and make sure it’s the same person – are they allowed to communicate. (This might also prompt some late-night hair and make-up attention – instead of hanging out and swiping in your pajamas, one of the benefits to online dating.) You have seven seconds to compare the photos (like Snapchat) before they disappear. Once you take the selfies and they are accepted, then you can begin chatting.

While this is a compelling hook and many people do enjoy taking selfies, this might also be a detraction for using the app. Most of us want to appear camera-ready, and might not like the way we look in selfies, or want to spend time taking the right picture, in the right light, in the right outfit (of course). One benefit is that the photo disappears – but a potential hazard is that you might think your curated profile won’t look the same as your selfie – and that your date might not think you’re the same person.

Not to mention, if you like to sit at the bar or restaurant swiping Tinder while waiting for your friends, this would not bode well for Blume. A poorly lit bar with lots of people around might not be the ideal time to take a selfie for some people. Or even sitting in a café having a coffee.

But if you’re willing to give it a shot and take your chances with your selfies, go for it. It might be the latest online dating craze.