Sunday 10 December, 2023

Al-Estiklal Newspaper

Dating Apps – An Entrance to a Successful Romantic Relationship or a Trap for Financial Fraud?

2022/02/19 21:02:00 | Mahmoud Taha | Reports
“The number of dating apps users around the world exceeded 3.23 million people and its market revenue reached $5.6 billion.”
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About a year ago, getting to know new people, especially in order to make romantic relationships, became almost impossible in many parts of the world, with all the health restrictions imposed, closures, travel halts and fears of infection; so dating apps and social media have become the most popular solution.

The way dating sites and apps work starts from creating a personal account attached to a simple definition and a set of photos, then the rest of the users will only have to browse other users' accounts based on gender identity, hobbies, work and study.

These apps save a lot of time that a person has to spend in making social relations in circles of work or study or through relatives and friends.

Dating apps such as Tinder or Badoo or Bumble, which are usually seen as apps to meet in casual relationships, were popular before the outbreak of the Coronavirus, but the enforced isolation after the pandemic has caused these apps to flourish exponentially.

Match Group, owner of popular dating apps Tinder, Hinge, Match and OkCupid, recorded a 12% increase in the number of users in the last quarter of 2020, at the time of the height of the first wave of the Coronavirus.

Tinder, the dating app giant, also counted more than 3 billion interactions (video call or search for a new partner) between its users all over the world during the same period.

It is noteworthy that the app Tinder facilitates more than a million dating processes in 190 countries around the world every week.

A report prepared by App Annie, which analyzes app market data, found that users globally spent about $4.2 billion searching for love during 2021, up 30% from the previous year, according to a report published by CNET on February 14, 2022.

According to the latest statistics published by Business of Apps websites on January 11, 2022, the number of dating apps users around the world has exceeded 3.23 million users, 75 million of them use Tinder, 60 million of them use Badoo, and 42 million of them use Bumble.

The statistic also showed an increase in the value of revenue in the dating apps market in 2021, which amounted to $5.6 billion, after it was $3.8 billion in 2020, expecting that the profits of these apps will continue to increase at a steady rate.


Negative and Positive Effects

With the rise in popularity of dating apps, criticism has increased against them, accusing them of threatening the lack of long-term commitment between the two parties, and leaving negative effects on individuals, it has become a trap for financial fraud, heterosexual relations, harassment and rape.

Many media organizations and research centers revealed earlier that dating apps have a negative impact on the quality of emotional relationships by making people unable to engage in single or long lasting partner love stories.

A survey conducted by Savanta ComRes, a market research consultancy, included 2,027 married adults over the age of 30, revealed that couples who started their relationships through dating on dating apps are more likely to break up than others.

The British newspaper, The Times, said on October 31, 2021, that “the survey showed that couples who met for the first time online are six times more likely to divorce in the first three years, than those who met for the first time through relationships with friends, family or neighbors.”

“The most common way to find a future husband or wife has always been to meet online, then comes the meeting through social relations, then the meeting at work, and then during the school stages,” the survey found.

“The most likely marriage relationships to continue in the long term are for those who met at school or at the university level, and the rate of separation reaches 8 percent,” the survey revealed.

On the other hand, a study conducted by a research team at the Swiss University of Geneva and published in PLOS ONE in December 2020 confirmed that “people who met their partners through dating apps often have stronger goals for a long-term relationship.”

The researchers relied on data included in a survey conducted by the Swiss Federal Statistics Office in 2018, and analyzed a subsample of 3,245 people over the age of 18 who had met their partners in the past decade.

This study also indicated that “these modern ways of meeting people encourage social, educational, and geographical mixing between people from diverse cultures.”

While observers believe that this study was conducted on Swiss society, its results are therefore appropriate to the environment in which it was conducted, and cannot be generalized to other societies, given its cultural specificity.

Although these apps have helped many people communicate with others over the years, but some users sounded the alarm about the environment in which they are communicating, especially for women who are subjected to a disproportionate amount of harassment and abuse, up to rape or financial fraud.

Data from a 2020 Pew Research Center study confirms that many women experience some form of harassment on dating sites and apps.

One of the biggest concerns of users of these apps is the sexual violence that can occur when users meet in person; the industry, which invests billions of dollars, is often not responsible for the consequences of abusive interactions between users.

In February 2020, the Pew Research Center published a study that it conducted on more than 4,860 people, which showed that millions of Americans of all ages use dating apps such as Tinder and OkCupid in search of love, in a growing phenomenon that is no longer confined to desperate people who are unhappy in their romantic relationships.

The study also pointed out that “30 percent of American youth use dating apps, and 45 percent of its users admit that it is less safe than traditional dating methods, while about two-thirds say it prevents the user from stabilizing their emotional relationships.”

In February 2020, Joseph Russell's blog, which specializes in statistics, published a study stating that 51% of dating app users have been deceived at least once by fake accounts, most of whom are between the ages of 41 and 50.

In October 2018, an important study conducted at the Dutch Erasmus University, which included a number of dating app users in Europe and America, revealed that 25% of Tinder dating app users are secretly related or married, according to the Telegraph.


Romantic Fraud

Last year, the United States experienced the highest levels of romantic financial fraud ever, its noticeable rise coincided with the social isolation caused by health prevention measures related to the Corona epidemic, and the reliance on technology and dating apps to connect with others and search for a life partner.

According to The New York Post reported on February 12, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) data on fraud and cybercrime indicates that losses from romantic financial fraud via dating apps and social media platforms will rise in 2021 to $ 547 million, compared to $ 307 million in 2020 and $202 million in 2019.

The data also shows hundreds of thousands of Americans have been subjected to romantic financial fraud in amounts exceeding $1.3 billion over the past five years, in addition, Australians lost more than $131 million due to romantic financial fraud in 2020.

The explosive growth of romantic financial fraud has prompted the warnings of many agencies and organizations, which coincided with the release of the Netflix platform, a new documentary film about the phenomenon of online dating under the title “The Tinder Swindler.”

The film, which tells the story of an Israeli swindler who lives the life of the rich and travels around the world in private planes, who used the dating app Tender to exploit and cheat women who were looking for love, and then steal their money in a clever way that he can't be charged with.

He allegedly defrauded victims around the world and stole $10 million from them by claiming to be the son of an Israeli diamond businessman.

He also defrauded a Norwegian woman of $500,000, according to reports in the Norwegian press.


Violating Privacy

It is noteworthy that the dating apps that have become very popular are downloaded on smartphones millions of times for free all over the world.

However, users of these apps pay a heavy price without knowing for the information they share on these apps, this data is sold to advertising networks or internet giants, which raises the concern of violating users' privacy.

At the beginning of 2020, a study by Norway's Consumer Council showed that dating apps such as Grindr, OkCupid and Tinder make serious breaches of privacy, including leaking personal user data, such as sexual orientation, religious or political orientation, and even health conditions to advertising companies.

In April 2021, the personal data of more than 1.7 million users of the most popular dating app in Japan, called Umyi, was hacked; the app, which at the time had about 6.9 million users.

According to observers, dating apps can help in a successful marriage because they use artificial intelligence techniques to find a suitable partner by providing all the information about the other partner, but such apps need government supervision to prevent any harassment, exploitation or fraud.





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