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Chatting Online

It can be empowering and incredible to connect with people online; however, it is essential to know of the possible risks of chatting to people online. Whether you’re seeking a hook up or a long term relationship, these helpful tips can help protect your safety. 

You can get the most out of being connected online in the LGBTIQA+ community by taking care to protect yourself and understanding the risks.

Use various photos

Have separate profile photos on your public social media profile and your profiles on hook up or dating apps. This limits the information that an anonymous person can find about you if they do an image search thus protecting your privacy.

Manage your privacy settings

Regularly update and manage your privacy setting on every account you own. This is not just limited to hook up and dating accounts but all other social media accounts such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook etc. On these accounts, you should limit who can see your personal information and who is able to contact you. Furthermore, you should never include intricate personal details such as your full name, address, phone number or banking information on any online accounts you hold.

Location settings management

Other users are able to track their distance from you or see where you are through the use of GPS settings enabled on most smartphones. This is a fundamental feature of how hook up and dating apps work. It is possible to update the settings within these apps to not disclose your location from others for added safety.

Get to know the person you are talking to

Ask lots of questions of your new connection and take the time to get to know them before you share intimate details with them on or offline. It is important that you feel comfortable and trusting of them before you share these details.

Seek identity verification

In order to verify someone’s identity, there are steps you can take while you are chatting to them and before you meet them to know who they really are. You can find out more information about someone and see the friends you have in common by asking them for their other social media pages such as Instagram or Facebook if they are willing to share them. Although some people do not like to share their other social media profiles when they are on a hook up or dating app, it is worth asking, particularly if you’ve been in contact with them for a while but you have not seen them in person. Before you meet, you may also like to video chat with them. Despite all of this though, there is no fool proof method of verifying that someone is who they say they are.

Stay on the app

Most hook up or dating apps have supportive features to help you in case you find yourself in danger so it is best to stay on the app while chatting to a new person. There is very little they can do to help if you move the conversation onto another platform. If someone pushes you to share your mobile phone number while you’re chatting to them on a hook up or dating app, let them know that you would prefer to keep the conversation on the app or another social media platform until you feel you can confidently verify their identity.

Make safety plans

Before you meet the person you have been chatting to on the dating or hook up app, make sure to check out the safety tips from the eSafety commissioner for keeping safe when meeting in person.

“I met Camelia* through Her.”

She seemed kind and genuine, and we quickly hit it off. We started chatting regularly and got to know each other better.
After a few weeks of chatting, we agreed to meet in person. I was nervous but also excited – this could be my chance to meet the person I had been looking for. We agreed to meet at a public place during the day, and I made sure to tell a friend where I was going and who I was meeting. I also brought my phone with me, just in case. When I arrived at the meeting spot, I saw Camelia waiting for me. She was even better in person than she was online! We had a great time together, chatting and laughing over coffee. After our first date, we continued to see each other and to get to know each other better. We had a lot in common and felt like we were a great match. Now, several months later, Camelia and I are still together. We are so grateful for the dating app that brought us together, and we are happy to say that we have found a love that is safe and genuine.


Report Online Abuse

It is a real concern when someone you are talking to continually does not take no for an answer. In this case, you can use functions inside the app or setting in your web browser to unfollow, mute or block the person and change your privacy level. If the person becomes abusive or starts harassing you, be sure to take screenshots to gather evidence and utilize the setting within the app to report their messages and profile. Furthermore, you can report the hurtful content to the eSafety commissioner if your experience can be supported by the legal definition of adult cyber abuse and the app doesn’t offer assistance within 48 hours.

Prevent image-based abuse

You are no longer in control of an image once you have sent it to someone else. People can betray your trust even if you trust them with the image now. It’s best practice when sending images to:

  • Crop out your face and any identifying marks such as birth marks, large freckles or tattoos so that the image cannot be attributed to you.
  • Take the image with a neutral background so it does not identify your location.
  • Verify that the image does not have the same background as other photos you’ve taken that you’ve used on other social media profiles.

If someone threatens or shares a sexual image or video, or nude of you without your consent, this is defined as image-based abuse and you can report it to the eSafety commissioner.