Protecting Your Image: Online Dating and Private Photo Sharing

Would you feel safe handing photos of yourself out to everyone in the world without knowing their intentions, mental stability, criminal background or position in your workplace? Most of us wouldn’t, and yet scores of people do just that every day-by posting their photos on dating websites, classified personals such as craigslist, e-mailing them or using other non-secure channels.

We’ve grown to trust the Internet as a fixture in our daily lives. However, the digital world poses the same threats to our personal safety and privacy as the real world, only amplified through its ability to connect anyone with any bit of data that floats freely through the ether. In the world of online dating, people may feel safer because they share images anonymously but, in reality, this just opens up more questions about who you’re looking at and vice versa.

Sharing photos through text, e-mail, online dating sites or public photo sharing environments puts your image in front of anyone and everyone, possibly affecting your personal safety, reputation and your employability. In one high-profile case, Congressman Chris Lee’s shirtless photo, e-mailed to a woman that he met on craigslist, forced him to resign after his “private” image went public. But you don’t have to be famous to become the victim of misused photo sharing. In Dallas, a firefighter lost his job after the husband of a woman with whom he had an affair informed the fire department of the nude photos that the firefighter posted on various adult dating websites that were specifically marketed for casual sexual encounters. In Canada, a judge stepped down after explicit pictures, taken by her attorney husband and shared through e-mail without her knowledge, surfaced online on a porn website.

In addition, there are many cases when a person’s photo has been stolen or saved and used by another to create a fictitious online identity-a scenario chronicled in the documentary film Catfish. While a few states have updated their laws to include online impersonation as a crime, it is often hard to track, with many unaware that they are victims. In one instance, a California man had his pictures “borrowed” and used by another man who was meeting women on a popular Jewish dating site. It was only by chance that he knew a woman who was communicating with this man and had received the pictures during their correspondence. In another instance, a 24-year-old Denver woman had her photos and details taken from her Facebook page and used by a 46-year-old woman for over six months to communicate with men that she met on various free and paid dating sites. No legal action was taken by the state in either case.

Dating sites are also a playing ground for con artists, criminals and sex offenders. Countless stories have surfaced about people who have sent money or goods to people who have romanced them online; others have been robbed at knifepoint, sexually abused and even murdered. It is wise, therefore, to add a layer of protection to your screening process by protecting your images and personal identity.

If you want to share photos with that online charmer-or with anyone else, for that matter-you should look into a private photo sharing service. These services offer a closed, secure environment in which members can share photos, anonymously or otherwise. When selecting such a service, make sure you have control over who specifically can look at your photos, which photos they can see and how long the photos remain viewable to them. Also, confirm that the site offers security features that protect your images from being captured or saved by the viewer in order to prevent them from being used in an unintended way.

Posting a Profile Picture

Meeting someone online does involve knowing that there will be a certain level of attraction, so posting a picture in an online profile has been shown to increase the number of responses an online dater receives. Some services go even further to protect your anonymity. One private photo sharing site, for example, lets you create a “teaser image” that clouds your image just enough to keep your identity private, while still allowing viewers to get a general idea of what you look like. Members can post this teaser image in the form of a JPEG file, link or clickable image on dating sites or other online locations as part of their personal profile and direct the individuals that they are interested in back to the website to see their actual photo. The service also uses patent-pending technology to prevent people from saving, forwarding or otherwise tampering with your images once they have viewing access to them.

In a world where privacy has largely become a thing of the past, it’s up to you to find and maintain a safe harbor for your online identity. Don’t depend on the kindness of strangers-take steps to make sure your private life stays private.

5 Reasons Speed Dating Breaks The Online Dating Myth

We are a culture obsessed with perfection. We photo shop are photos, analyze our profiles for perfect wording in order to create the best possible impression on paper. The problem is it’s still on paper. You can can go through thousands of online profiles and photos looking for the perfect person and still not talk to a single person.

I held my first event as a Los Angeles speed dating event host last week and was shocked when 24 normal, friendly, everyday people showed up. When I first met these people I thought these nice people are never going to find a match. After all I live in Los Angeles where everyone is either a model or an actor.These people were no where near that level of “perfection.”

To my pleasure these speed dating participants came up with 16 double matches between them. Meaning that 67% agreed to speak to each other again! It was especially rewarding to watch one of my male coaching clients come to life and get 2 double matches after being down on himself and not dating for 8 months.

I consider it a victory for humankind and the power of connection that at the end of the day all we really want is to talk and feel connection. I want to congratulate those people who came and thank them for encouraging me to be myself. Morale of the story in my experience online dating focuses on the myth of perfection, speed dating is for real people who like real people.

Five Reasons Why You Should Speed Date vs. Online Dating!

1. Speed Dating or Singles Mixers Have No Room For Catfishing! (Catfishing- the act of deceiving someone you meet online by portraying yourself to be someone you’re not). Thankfully, with speed dating, you meet people in person. They don’t have a chance to deceive you with a fake profile. What you see is what you get.

2. You are able to see if there is chemistry right away. Often, what happens with online dating is you may have a good connection online, but chemistry falls flat when you meet in person. You’re able to look for compatibility within a person to person meeting.

3. Speed Dating is less superficial than online dating. Online daters, at first, evaluate someone’s physical attractiveness, body type and general lifestyle. With speed dating you get the chance to discover your prospects personality as well as the physical.

4. The participants have paid a fee to attend and usually are professionals with careers and money available for recreational activities. At a free online dating site they may be surfing the web because they have nothing else to do!

5. No matter what you put on your online profile, you will still get people way out of your desired age range or location sending you messages! The basic speed dating event is targeted to local areas and specific age ranges so you will not be out of place at an event and know what to expect.

You can always mix the two: Why not invite one (or two) of your online prospects if they’re in the area. It’s the safe way to meet in person!

Why Free Online Dating Has Become Successful

When free dating online started not that many people knew about it. There were only but a few sites that were really 100% free. At this time the leading paid dating services were starting to invest in huge advertising campaigns. So the public were repeatedly reminded about them. Only a few years later did the first free dating websites start becoming very popular. Most of the free dating sites offered the same tools and features as the paid dating services. Some of the free dating sites even offered unique tools like wink, send a card, and more.  

  Eventually website designers and the online dating entrepreneurs had to come up with a better plan to attract new members. They had to be different from the rest to actually appear in the search results because of the increasing amount of competition. This is when “niches” started to form. Free online dating sites that target a singular type of person, for example, “Vegan Dating”, or “Yoga Dating”. At this point in time these dating sites were fairly easy to optimize since their were little to no other sites like them. Soon, the public had access to any site that they desired in trying to find the most suitable free dating service.

Singles can join a free dating service that matches what they enjoy in life and get paired with a person who shares the same interest. Most of these “niched” sites often have personality tests where singles can answer a few questions about themselves and what they enjoy. After taking a personality test the single can then view a list of the people they might be interested in that live right around the corner. No wonder free online dating became so popular.. People had the option to either date the “old-fashioned way”, or to try something affordable and easy to find exactly the person they’re looking for.  

  Free dating sites began to make their sites even better and easier to find someone. Now there are features like camera chat, and phone. These features opened up so many doors for singles to talk and even see their date before actually meeting. Both men and women that did not have time to date because of their career or kids now had the opportunity to date online. Singles that were tired of meeting the wrong people or ending up on an awkward blind date started to date online. Now there are hundreds of thousands singles dating online. There have been numerous success stories from people all over the globe. With this many people on free dating websites, the paid dating services began to compromise by offering 30 day trials, or other forms of saving money schemes. The free online dating industry kept getting larger and even more popular that eventually the first free dating websites were getting close to the same amount of members that the paid dating services had. This scared the paid dating services that they too ended up making some of their features free and even making other dating sites that were 100% free.