As much as we want you to find “the one” we want you to be aware that dating apps could be very risky when it comes to your safety as well.
Here are some best practices when using dating apps like Grindr, Jack’d, Scruff, Tinder, and Hornet.
- Change your dating app icon to look different on your home screen. Within Grindr and Scruff go to Settings -> App Preferences -> Custom App Icon. If you have touch ID on your phone, enable it for these apps (Settings -> Privacy Settings).
- Do not give personal information to strangers and be cautious with sharing information about your private life. For example, do not share where you live with someone you haven’t met yet (e.g. sharing location of your home) or your virtual identity (e.g. email address, Facebook account).
- Consider creating an email address that you only use for meeting partners. If you use a video chat platform, create a separate account as well.
- We recommend that you do not post a picture of your face if you live in a country where being LGBTQ+ puts you in danger.
- For location-based apps like Jack’d, Scruff, and Grindr: we recommend you “hide distance” so that other users cannot accurately pinpoint your location.
- If you start communicating via text with someone you meet online, use a secure platform such as Signal. Remember that using Signal means that they’ll have your phone number; possibly use a burner phone if you’d like to be extra cautious.
- When meeting someone from online from an app, choose a public place and let others know where you are going. Consider a timed safety call: in other words, have a scheduled time by which you’ll contact the person who knows where you’re going and who you’re with. If you fail to make contact by that time and they can’t get ahold of you, they contact authorities or otherwise sound the alarm that something isn’t right. Do not travel to a different town or country to meet your date. If you decide to meet up in person, make sure you do not go alone. It is best to have a Jitsi call with them beforehand (Jitsi is more secure than other videoconferencing solutions).
- For your first meeting in a public place make sure it’s before dark.
- Do not take too much with you. Unless necessary, do not take your debit card or important papers.
- Report negative incidences of a meeting on the app to the app. Most provide a way to both block a user as well as notify the app of harassment.
- Make your sexual health decisions before you go online, and stick to them when chatting and when you meet. Don’t let anyone talk you into something you’re not comfortable with or want to do. You can use your profile options to let others know about your HIV status, last test date, and your preferences regarding sexual activity. Follow your instincts: if something doesn’t feel right online or when you’ve met, leave. Some apps indicate who else might know your partner already. That person may be more trustworthy than someone who is a total stranger.
- Try not to use the apps when drunk / under the influence, as you may accidentally share more private information. Also, you may make different decisions about what you’ll do sexually than you would if you weren’t drunk or high. Keep an eye on your drinks to prevent anyone from putting a roofie in them.
- Get tested regularly for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Every three months is a good cadence. Create those calendar reminders right now! Some apps like Grindr and Hornet also offer testing reminders.
- If you do get diagnosed with an STI, it’s a good idea to notify your partners. If you don’t feel comfortable or safe doing so directly, TellYourPartner.org makes it easy to text or email them anonymously.
Note: You can find Grindr’s complete Safety Guidelines here.