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After Shraddha Walkar Murder, here is what you should know about the unknown risks of dating apps

Shraddha Walkar Murder Case: How dating apps are linked to crime against women


The main accused in the murder of 27-year-old Shraddha Walkar was her live-in boyfriend Aaftab Poonawala who met her through the dating app Bumble in 2019. Almost living and torturing her for three years, he killed her and re-installed the app to match with another woman.

As per multiple media reports, the Delhi Police have traced other women he met through the app.

Speaking about the incident, a spokesperson from the online dating app Bumble told that the team was “devastated” after hearing the news of the crime and stated it as an “unspeakable crime”, adding, “We will continue to follow closely and remain available to law enforcement should they request our support.”

With all the details, what we know for sure is that the alleged murderer used the online dating app to meet more women and which begs the question, is it even safe for women to use such apps now?

It is not a new thing to know that interacting with strangers through an online app can put you at risk easily for identity theft, online harassment, stalking, digital dating abuse, and catfishing, and you can even get raped or murdered.

So, if you want to meet up ‘in real life (IRL) with someone you met on a dating app, make sure your physical safety is the top priority.

There has been a shift in how people are using dating apps. People are increasingly ghosting, cheating, and conning people after contacting them through dating sites and apps, taking advantage of their emotional vulnerabilities. Millions use these apps and fall victim and — the number is growing. All users should be very discreet and take all due caution while taking things forward on these apps and websites.

THE GROWING POPULARITY OF ONLINE DATING APPS

The popularity of online dating has increased over the past few years compared to the time when it originally started. But, with such excitement comes some new issues, especially when it comes to your safety.

The latest study estimated that there are 44 million people who are using dating websites and close to 27 million people using smartphone dating apps in the United States in this year 2022. Also, the number of people using dating websites is estimated to increase to 53 million by the year 2024.

To make navigating the online dating scene a little easier and safer, we have compiled a list of important facts about online dating. We also have put together some tips for selecting the best dating app for you as well as included key tips for staying safe in the online dating world.

YOUR DATA AT RISK

People hope that making some connections using dating apps can form a relationship that will last forever. But sadly, apps such as Bumble, Tinder, Grindr, Hinge, and others make no promises of endless love, according to United States national security officials. Also, they warned users about that one thing that really may last forever and that is their confidential data.

You don’t realize how much data your phone is generating about you and your life every single day and based on that, many sexual offenders are taking advantage of this but aren’t we who are inviting them?

According to multiple news reports, Grindr’s privacy policy says it “cannot guarantee the security of your personal data such data as preferred sexual positions, HIV status, old profile pictures, race, exact location and times of day the app is accessed.

Tinder also collects sexual preferences, along with messages, user’s contact information, precise location, job, and even Spotify playlists.

REASONS FOR USING DATING APPS

Well, dating apps are not only for ‘hookups’ now and the research shows that the reasons people use such apps tend to fall into the below-mentioned categories

Finding partners just for sex

Finding partners just for time pass and have fun

Building friendships

Curiosity to know someone

Finding a romantic partner

Travelling (to experience dates in different places)

Self-improvement, self-validation, self-satisfaction

To make life a little bit more interesting

To replace boredom with entertainment and curiosity

PEOPLE USING DATING APPS CAN MANIPULATE YOU

According to the study conducted by Brigham Young University (BYU), a disturbing pattern in the US – revealed how violent sexual predators are using such apps to target women with vulnerabilities such as mental illnesses highlighting all they want is sex and crave lust.

The risk of using these apps became more significant after 2020, as according to Gleeden, an extramarital dating app, has seen a rise of 70 per cent in its subscription in India during the lockdown period which means the majority of the couples are cheating their partners.

Also, as per the largest research of its kind, it was found that:

The majority of rapes are committed by acquaintances perhaps a friend or relative or even occurred during an initial meetup arranged through a dating app.

In the survey, the victims and survivors who came into a toxic relationship through online dating apps revealed that they suffered from mental illness with all those assaulted by their partners.

Some victims even faced violence during a first meeting set up through an app and also suffered mental illness.

Apart from such trauma, perpetrators also raped their partners, inflicted injuries by which many suffered breast injuries, and on other private body parts and some victims even reported being strangled during the assault.

KNOWN AND UNKNOWN RISKS TO STAYING SAFE ON DATING APPS

  • Use a VPN app and install security solutions apps on all of your devices;

  • Block precise location detection

  • Sharing information with strangers only on a need-to-know basis.

  • Dating apps don’t have a screenshot restriction policy, which means any data/conversations can be recorded and leaked

  • Strict cross-verification and two-factor authentication of profiles are needed for every user

  • Better data protection practices needed

  • Use a unique and different profile photo ..not necessarily yours

  • Early video calling can be a risk

  • Feature needed to report a person to police via app in case you see a red flag

  • Location details, identity details, and real photos can get you in trouble

  • Do not add your social media accounts to your dating apps

  • No need to give your real name, surname, place of work, or address

  • Don’t disclose your e-mail address, no matter if it is your personal or work e-mail

  • Do not use dating sites on unprotected Wi-Fi networks.

  • Delete your profile if you are no longer using the app or services.

  • Stay within the app and contact your date through the dating app only. Don’t rush to switch to Whatsapp or Facebook/messenger

  • Make sure the geography settings of the app are safe

  • Check all the reporting and blocking features

  • Avoid using apps with free trials and free versions

  • Take Precautions When Meeting IRL

OTHER CRIMES THAT TOOK PLACE USING ONLINE DATING APPS

1 – A gang of miscreants in Noida, Uttar Pradesh honeytrap and lure people using online dating applications to rob 50 people. Police arrested 2 women and a man for the crime.

2 – A Delhi woman was strangled to death by a man she had met on a dating app. The man had made her drink alcohol to make her unconscious strangled her, and also stole Ra 50 lakh cash and jewellery.

3 –  A con man defrauded 27 women from 10 different states on a dating app. The man posed as a wealthy heir to woo women online only to con them for millions of dollars. He was nabbed by the Odisha police for his wrongdoings later.

4 – Watched ‘Dexter’ and killed his live-in partner.  The gruesome killing case of Shraddha Walker has brought everyone’s attention whose body was chopped into 35 pieces. The accused met her through an online dating app. Also, after killing and chopping her body off, the accused Aaftab continued to talk to multiple women on dating apps and even went on a date.

5 – A Pune woman lured a man on a dating app and robbed him of his valuables in the first meeting after offering a cold drink laced with some psychotropic substance.

6 – A 28-year-old woman was allegedly raped at a five-star hotel in the national capital after the two had met on the dating app Tinder.

7 – A girl from Jaipur allegedly kidnapped and killed her Tinder match, and his body was stuffed in a suitcase on the Delhi-Jaipur highway, after extorting Rs 3 lakh from his family as a ransom. The has duped thousands of men and has been accused of prostitution, ATM loot, extortion, false rape threats, and honey traps among other crimes.

8 – A man was arrested for allegedly raping his date after presenting a false pretence of marriage. The two met on Tinder and started dating each other. The man has been arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

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