Dating Sites: You Gonna Get Raped

Posted: April 19, 2011 in Unbounded Learning
Tags: , , , ,

Literally.

This is the Today Show segment on Carole Markin, a successful fifty-something,  who got a date on Match.com and got sexually assaulted on their second date. It turns out that her date was a sex offender. She’s now suing Match.com, saying she’ll drop charges if they change their security policy and screen members first. Currently, Match.com’s terms of use says they are not liable for whatever happens if members decide to meet offline. The company says they’ve been planning to change that for a while and the timing of Markin’s assault wasn’t the only reason they’ll be changing their policies, according to the Today Show.

Agreeing with Malkin here that while Match.com shouldn’t be liable as to what happens to their members when they agree to meet with another member, they should at least be responsible for making sure that the members they make available to other users are not registered sex offenders. That’s just bad for business, letting sex offenders use your site to hunt prey.

On the other hand, I believe people should just be cautious anyway. You can’t trust a website that handles thousands of people to completely weed out undesirable potential dates. Sure, they can scan who the registered sex offenders are but I doubt Match.com or any other dating site can weed out the violent jerks, gold diggers, and such. If it’s so easy for 40-year-old men to pretend being 17-year-old boys, I’m sure it’s not that hard for a psycho killer to pretend he’s a complete gentleman who loves dogs and walks on the beach.

Besides, the point of these dating sites is basically to open the door to meet other people. What you do after that, including keeping yourself safe, is on you.

While I think it’s normal to meet people online, I can’t stress enough how important it is to watch out for yourself. I’m not blaming Markin here but she mentioned asking for the guy’s name but not being able to get it due to a “dropped call or he mumbled, I don’t know”. She could’ve asked again, just to be sure. And now, with the abundance of social networking sites and availability of those places that let you see a person’s criminal record, research on a person can’t be that hard anymore. It’s not being creepy, it’s being smart.

Her course of action was ideal (that she thought of checking the guy out): always check people out before you meet them. I met my boyfriend online 3 years ago and it was several months before we met in person.

While I thought he was very sweet and I trusted him a little bit, I kept thinking maybe this dude is some psycho serial killer. Maybe the dude in the pictures he’s sending me are picture of some guy he killed. Luckily, even without Facebook, I was able to look him up on the Air Force website as a recent graduate in the San Antonio Basic Training place thing. He still could have been a psycho serial killer but I knew he wasn’t lying about being in the Air Force or about his name at least.

I may have been lucky that I didn’t end up in the trunk of his rental car or anything like that but you can’t always be lucky. Don’t be naive when you’re meeting someone online, be it Match.com or craigslist.com or whatever. Or better yet, get off your butt and go out, meet people that way.

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