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The online environment could also lull users into thinking they know someone, and therefore making themselves vulnerable.
To date, much of the research on online dating has been conducted by dating companies themselves.
All the same, the NCA noted that the incidents had a lot in common.
Most notably, 72% were carried out in the home of either the victim or the perpetrator, and 41% of the dates that led to assaults started at home, rather than moving there after an initial meeting somewhere else.
But fake profiles abound, sexual predators use the sites, and some common online dating behavior—like meeting alone after scant acquaintance, sharing personal information, and using geolocation—puts users at risk.
If you go out to a bar and meet someone that you don’t know, you should be careful.”But those who want to see the industry do more point out that online dating is different from society in one important sense: Users are paying to be there.
In the US, the FBI collects data about so-called romance fraud and about online “sexploitation,” but data about physical assault linked to dating sites is scant.
The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, conducted by the US government, last collected data in 2011 and will publish an update this year, but doesn’t ask questions about online dating.
In the absence of hard data, it’s anecdotes that shape the conversation about online dating safety.
In 2016 Stephen Port was convicted in the UK of killing four young men he met on the gay dating app Grindr.