Online dating? Here are pre-date research tips to keep you safe

Above: Cheater hiding wedding ring in a pocket in foreground while he is one a date with his lover outdoors. Lifestyle | 13 Feb |

Love is definitely in the air as the hours before Valentine’s Day tick away, and nowadays finding love means online dating for a lot of the world’s population. It is estimated that Tinder, a popular dating app, has 57 million users around the world.

With this many people trolling the internet, it is important to keep safety and your internet reputation under control, so that pre-date research is efficient and as successful as possible. 

CEO of ReputationDefender Rich Matta explained that when it comes to researching before meeting a date for the first time, most people immediately turn to Google. Then if the curiosity is still looming, move to social media and see how your date may be presenting themselves to the world through photos and status updates.

Researching before a date is common practice among many people and highly recommended by some experts, but Matta sees another side to the situation, “Sometimes there could be information in someone’s search results that is false, that is slanted or that might not even be about them,” he said. 

Although it seems like they should be, search engines are not necessarily an exact science. They are all controlled by pre-created computer algorithms that analyze keywords in your search to show you the most relevant web pages associated with the search.

This means that if you search the name “Sam Smith,” you could be receiving a lot of information that either isn’t true or is about another “Sam Smith” because these are just the most relevant web pages. Computers might make people’s lives easier, but the information they share is not always as accurate as one may like it to be.

Sue Scheff, an author and internet safety advocate, unfortunately had to experience this situation first hand. In 2003, Scheff found herself under attack through internet defamation. 

Defamation itself is defined as, “A false and unprivileged statement of fact that is harmful to someone’s reputation, and published “with fault,” meaning as a result of negligence or malice.” So internet defamation means that the statements are being published on the internet.

Scheff’s reputation was being torn apart by an internet reputation that wasn’t even true. “The first three pages of Google told people that I was a con, I abused children, and I was a crook. It was just horrible,” she said.

Although Scheff wasn’t online dating at the time, if she had wanted to start, her dates most likely would never have even happened because of an untruthful online reputation.

A person’s online reputation is more important than ever because in the online dating world, your profile and your Google search results are your first impression, and if you don’t have a handle on your first impression, your online dating experience may not end as happily as it could. 

It has been said time and time again that the internet is forever, but in today’s tech-savvy universe, there are ways to control your online reputation.

Matta’s company, ReputationDefender, is just one of the many resources available to help improve a person’s online reputation. They work with the Google algorithm to improve someone’s reputation. Matta said, “For our clients, we do a lot of writing, and we strategically publish this new content across a network of websites that are all linked to each other and create a positive first impression by ranking well in Google.” This strategy allows for untrue and slanderous content to be pushed farther down the search results of Google.

Online dating can be a tricky game to play even before the dates begin. So do yourself a favor and take the expert advice of Matta and Scheff — be proactive and make sure your online reputation is under control today.

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