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#SwipeToSafe: Precautionary Tips for Safer Online-to-Offline Meetups

#SwipeToSafe: Precautionary Tips for Safer Online-to-Offline Meetups


In today’s digital age, meeting people online can lead to real-life encounters, but ensuring safety during these meetups is more important than ever. While dating apps can be helpful for some, they also raise the risk of encountering violent predators. LGBTQIA+ persons may face even higher risks as attackers believe they are less likely to report violence due to fears of exposing their sexual orientation or gender identity, leading to further stigma and discrimination.

While all dating app users face potential dangers – regardless of how they identify – it is essential to be conscious and take precautions when meeting someone in person. LGBTQI+ people encounter specific risks and targeting on dating and hook-up apps, such as being lured to unsafe locations for robbery or assault. Therefore, all app users should be cautious and not trust others too quickly.

Meeting up with someone you met online necessitates awareness and precaution:

  • Conduct Preliminary Video Calls: before meeting in person, try having a video call to verify the person’s identity and get a sense of their intentions.
  • Limit Personal Information Sharing: be cautious about sharing personal information online or during the initial meetup. Keep conversations on the app and avoid sending explicit pictures to prevent blackmail or cyberbullying. Refrain from sharing identifiable information such as your workplace and address. Protect your privacy until you feel safe.
  • Inform Someone of your Whereabouts: let someone you trust know where you are going, who you are meeting and when you expect to return. Share your real-time location, if possible.
  • Be Mindful of Your Surroundings: try to plan a meet-up in a lower-threat or neutral location. Well-populated, public places (such as coffee shops, malls, shopping centres and restaurants) are ideal. Avoid public Wi-Fi access and malicious hot spots as this makes you vulnerable to cyber attacks such as phishing and man-in-the-middle attacks.
  • Trust Your Instincts: if something feels off, trust your gut. It’s okay to cancel or leave a meetup if you feel uncomfortable.

While the community and online dating app users take precautions for their own safety, we continue to advocate for socio-cultural change where everyone can live in safe spaces, free from fear, homophobia, sexism, misogyny and discrimination. The LGBTQIA+ community deserves to be valued, respected and protected. We should all be free to meet people we connect with online without fear of harm, violence, or discrimination. It is crucial for all individuals, especially those in vulnerable communities, to exercise caution when meeting offline. 

We urge law enforcement and policymakers to implement and enforce measures that protect individuals during online-to-offline interactions. Increasing awareness, providing legal protections, and establishing strong support systems within the community are essential to ensure the safety and well-being of all.

 

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