When should I share private information and other questions on safety you may have about online dating
Bumble has released a digital safety handbook, the resource you’ve been looking for
Three months after Amal Sethi (34) and the guy she met online decided to make things exclusive, she received a phone call that shook her reality. It was a close friend — turns out Amal’s ‘boyfriend’ had swiped right on her, even though he swore he was off dating apps. Sethi had been the victim of ‘cookie-jarring’, where ‘a potential date doesn’t have the intention of entering a relationship, but constantly keeps you as a backup option while pursuing other people’.
Moments like these are frustrating. You find yourself wishing you had some sort of GPS to navigate the digital dating realm, one that could help you spot a potential red flag from far away, and make your journey smoother.
We started with going through Bumble’s Safety Handbook created in partnership with two non-profit organisations, Centre for Social Research and Nyaaya. The initiative helps people recognise signs of online abuse — from the subtleties of orbiting (when a person has broken ties with you, but continues to haunt your social media) and cookie-jarring to the aggressions of body-shaming and bullying. Broken down with examples to help you better understand the negative behaviour you’ve encountered, it also outlines your digital rights and provides resources that can be helpful.
This is especially pertinent when you consider the stats. About 40% of people Bumble surveyed in India claim that they have faced hate-driven speech and bullying that includes discrimination against a particular group or community. About 50% of respondents admitted to encountering hateful content online—and a startling one in four women said they’d witnessed online abuse weekly.
Scroll further for common red flags and what you can do to avoid them.
“A guy I connected with online somehow manages to bring up the topic of sex each time we speak. Lately he has been insisting on exchanging suggestive photos. I’m fine with flirting, but I’m wondering if this is too much, too soon.”
When someone deliberately violates your personal space and makes derogatory comments, recognise that as unacceptable behaviour. If you feel the person is not taking no for an answer, and is becoming too aggressive, you could take action.
Take screenshots of all conversations and document evidence of harassment. You can block and report the person on relevant platforms. Contact your nearest cyber crime cell, and hand over the evidence. You could also file an online complaint with the online crime reporting portal maintained by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Choose from ‘Report Cyber Crime Related to Women/Child’ or ‘Report Other Cyber Crime.’
“In the beginning, you’re excited to meet so many interesting people and I was tempted to share personal details like my phone number or invite them over. Now, I make sure to keep private information to myself, until I feel secure enough to share it.”
Here, you may be able to have your gluten-free, dark chocolate cake and eat it too. A healthy compromise — go on a digital date using the app’s video chat feature, where you’ll be able to see each other and form a connection, but from the comfort of your own couch. The Bumble India Safety Handbook recommends withholding personal information like your phone number or home address until you feel ready to.
“I stop talking to people as soon as they make me uncomfortable. I use the Block & Report feature whenever I feel the conversation is taking a turn towards harassment or bullying.”
Two words: Block and Report. Bumble’s safety handbook clearly calls out abuse or threats based on race, religion, class, caste, gender, or sexual orientation as identity-based hate. Save screenshots of the entire conversation, after blocking and reporting the individual, if you want to, you can take further legal action against the abuser.
While online dating has turned our world into a box of chocolates, with the possibility of encountering many exciting flavours, there’s a chance you might have an unsavoury encounter. Recognising red flags becomes a life skill as important as doing your taxes or writing the perfect cover letter. Bumble’s digital safety handbook can help you spot the warning signs, and safeguard your search for genuine connection.