Mm, so there was an ulterior motive behind Match.com’s decision to go down the ‘we will vet all new sign-ups’ route last week, with two other big names from the online dating world. The reason they have taken this bold step, to extricate its membership from the potential harm posed by scammers, fraudsters and sexual deviants, is because Match.com was being taken to court by a woman who was sexually assaulted on a date she went on through using their service.
Not meaning to sound callous, but thank the Almighty it was only a sexual assault and not a fatality – the results could have been a whole lot bleaker for both the victim and the mainstream dating site if the woman, with whom they settled out of court, had met an untimely end at the hands of the sexual predator she began her liaison with on their online dating service.
The case has been ongoing since August last year, the woman believed to hail from LA. After she discovered that the man with whom she’d met and had assaulted her had previous convictions of a sexual nature, she decided to go public with the case. It was at this stage that Match.com decided that they would start to screen membership and has led to their landmark announcement, last week.
The attorney general presiding over the case and who mediated between the parties ‘commended’ the actions of the dating site and insisted that anyone using the Internet for dating should be able to do so without fear that the person with whom they’re communicating is a threat to their welfare.
Summing up, Harris, the afore-mentioned attorney general, strongly advised that all dating sites adopt similar practises in the interests of public safety. It is not just the screening – there will be ways around that. Therefore there will now be reporting systems so that anyone subjected to an ordeal at the hands of a fellow dating site member can instantly report their conduct in the hope that action will be taken at whatever level is deemed fit. At the very least, this will incur being stricken from the online dating membership role for the perpetrator.
As is the law in several US states, the dating sites that have signed up for this extra monitoring will also lead the way in the public dating safety notices it posts on its pages. They must be clear and accessible at all times.
From the law’s perspective, Harris, who set up an eCrime department last year to deal with identity theft will allocate a liaison solely to the safety, monitoring and follow-up of any reported miscreants on dating sites. This offer will be extended to any other sites that adopt the same protocol for their business.
There’s a long way to go, but if the big names are seen to be putting in that much of a concerted effort with their volumes, let’s hope many more follow suit and soon.