Swiping Right On Mister Wrong: Identity Fraud And Online Dating

Blockchain, Innovation, Opinion | March 25, 2019 By:

Nearly everyone has at least a few dating horror stories with people they’ve met online. Unfortunately, some of those stories end worse than others. Online dates gone wrong have ranged from harmless lies about a date’s age, to meetups with literal serial killers. There are plenty of reasons to be cautious and skeptical about using dating apps.

But online dating is also hard to avoid in today’s world, and has a lot of upsides. According to The Knot, 19% of surveyed brides met their spouse online. For those stragglers who say they’re “not into online dating” and are holding out for the moment they bump into their soulmate in a bookstore, that day might never come. Besides, if you’ve seen Netflix’s You, then you know literary meet-cutes don’t always end happily ever after!

So how can we embrace modern matchmaking tech and still emerge from dates unscathed? The answer might surprise you: blockchain. Blockchain tech has what it takes to provide the identity management required to save you a few hours of misery, or even your life!

Catfishing season is over

Ever show up to a first date and immediately notice that your match isn’t exactly what you expected? You aren’t alone, or imagining things. 22% of men lie about their height, about 30% of men lie about their age, 20% of women use an outdated but more flattering photo, and, overall, 53% of online daters admitted to lying in some way on their profile. Identity verification can protect people from the awkward experience of being on a date with someone who is totally different from their online profile.

Blockchain identity verification protocols could confirm people’s age, height, job, income level, and other characteristics so you don’t end up in a situation where your date is unexpectedly twice your age or half your height, or vice versa – unless that’s what you’re looking for, of course.

The reason blockchain is the best solution for ID verification is its trustless nature – you can have personal details confirmed without needing to disclose documents or information to questionably secure websites like dating apps.

Screen your dates now – so you don’t have to screen your calls later

Confirming a date’s identity is more important than just avoiding an awkward situation. Sometimes, it’s a matter of safety.

One Los Angeles serial killer used Tinder to lure women to their deaths.  In Massachusetts, one woman was stabbed and slashed in the face by her online date.  A Florida man was robbed and murdered after a date with a woman he met on PlentyOfFish. Unfortunately, the list goes on.

Identify verification could include confirmation of a clean criminal record, and confirmation of address, ID, and contact information in the event of it being necessary to report a date that turns dangerous. You may be (justifiably) concerned about having that information available to these same potential predators who could use it nefariously. Again, blockchain technology allows users to keep their information encrypted with their own personal key. Once that information is verified by third-party notaries you approve, dating sites could display different badges on your profile confirming traits about you (like clean criminal record or military service) that you wish to display, without actually possessing the data itself.

These badges could also protect your heart – you’d be able to know if a date is really single or hiding that they’re married, another frequent online dating con.

You can’t outsource common sense to Blockchain

Singles who are mingling will still need to exercise judgement when selecting dates or emotionally investing in their new relationships. There are still, and will always be, areas that technology cannot screen for you.

Blockchain can check verifications, but it can’t read minds. It can’t know if a guy is really “looking for a serious relationship” or if a gal really “totally loves WWE,” or if someone is as devout, wild, spontaneous, artistic, gregarious, or loyal as they claim to be.

And of course, a potential match’s lack of criminal record does not excuse anyone from exercising normal amounts of caution.

Of course, this level of transparency is a two-way street. You’ll be increasingly expected to reveal verification badges, or risk appearing sketchy if you don’t.

This new wave of secure online dating will also need to walk some tricky ethical lines. If, for example, participants can confirm clean medical records, would that imply that those who remain silent carry something communicable? And could this kind of data spur discrimination?

What about, for example, people who do carry criminal records, but have changed, grown, given up a substance, or undergone some other significant process that has helped them move on from that past. It’s easy to prejudge based on a missing verification, and miss out on an amazing person. Perhaps once online dating goes high tech, and brings all of the much-needed security and peace of mind features that come with that, there will also emerge a niche market of nostalgia dating sites, for those who miss the “good old days” of showing up for a date with no idea what to expect.