Drive wipe facility not available on dating site hard drive

Following on from the report of how Grindr was embarrassingly easily hacked last month and the effect that the release of such information, if the hacker chose to download and distribute it, would have on the dating site’s members, our next two articles look at how you may want to delete your information. This sounds like a great idea, but there are two problems with actuating that decision.

The first indirect problem is in itself twofold. If, having been the victim of a bitch campaign or been warned about your dating site activity if you hold a position of responsibility within the community or at work, yet you want to carry on using your site, you can choose to delete your ‘you’ profile and create an alter-ego to continue using the service.

The first issue with this scenario is proving your ‘other self’ as an entity if someone who is attracted to your dating site profile requests you to do so. By creating an imaginary online persona you are inadvertently mirroring the steps taken by scammers worldwide. You may also be in breach of the dating site’s guidelines by doing this, but that’s not the real problem. You are rendering the security facilities being adopted by the world of online dating globally, which allow users to align their dating profiles with an online verification of their identity. The first biggie we reported on was Trusted Faces but there are more coming along as the growth of scammers mirrors the increase in volume of new dating site sign-ups.

Even if you do eventually choose to create a new profile using an adopted name, which, to be successful in any real sense, has to incorporate an image that is at least a little like you, you can still be Geo-tagged. More about that in the following article.

But the second real issue is the deletion of your original account. According to one recent study, facebook retains your photographs for two and a half years on its servers after you have deleted your account. And they’re not alone in doing this. Dating sites the world over are guilty of the exact same practise. Their excuse for doing so has its core in the fact that, should the member’s relationship not work out, they may well want to reactivate the account they cancelled due to their change in circumstances.

As was the case in September last year when a judge ordered the release of Twitter and facebook passwords so that evidence could be presented of infidelity in a divorce court, the dating site’s privacy policies will not protect you by not sharing your information if the law comes knocking. Putting the two together, the longevity dating sites hold your data and their inability to stave off legal access to that information, you are warned here and now that anything you do or say, drunk or sober, on your dating or social networking site may be used against you (or someone else) in a court of law long after you have deleted your account.

The moral is, be careful what you say in the public domain – one day it may just come back and bite you on the ass when you’re least expecting it. Next up – steps to take to avoid this dilemma.

Sorry, have I seen your face before? You look familiar…

In our previous article, we were informed about the fact that dating sites hold on to your account details in case we choose to reinstate our account, possibly for an indefinite period and that facebook retain our details for two and a half years.

The provider of that information, Rainey Reitman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, also suggests that photographs we upload to our dating site or social media platform may be given an indefinite home on servers external to that of the website we have made our online dating home. This all makes it so much easier for social media sites to build up a picture of you even if you have just browsed their site. If they have your IP address from your visit and that information is stored in a deleted account somewhere in dating cyberspace, they already know a lot more about you when you sign up than you think they do, even if you’ve only clicked through and looked at one photograph of a potential partner in the past.

As promised, Mr Reitman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has provided some key information about how you can avoid this anonymous detection or, if the dating site is not that sophisticated, you can throw them a few less-advanced curveballs to put them off your scent.

As when they teach you internet marketing, sign up for a free e-mail address in the pseudonym which you’ll use to join your dating site and use it only for that purpose. When you’re done with the dating site, bin the e-mail account.

Never give the site your personal information unless you absolutely have to. This includes your name (the real one) and most definitely any credit or debit card information. You may not have information where this is stored, even after you close your account.

If you can stretch to it or find a free one, use a VPN (virtual private network). These are not bad services and often run a broadband service cheaper than you’d get through a telephone line rental company. What effect that gives you is, even though you log on as normal, it diverts all communication in a very real time manner through their network and IP address so that the dating site’s servers cannot trace your IP to you. Clever stuff.

Other advice, from Help Net Security, touches on your dating site profile photo, or galleries. If the photo of you has been tagged, there is an excellent chance that the image will be stored on an external server in perpetuity. There are services that allow you to search for an image online anywhere, such as tin-eye. When signing up under a pseudonym, either scan to see if a previous picture of you is stored anywhere online or upload a brand new one and attach it to your alter-ego’s profile under its name!

And lastly, before you sign up to a dating site, if keeping your real name discreet is a must, check out the sites t’s & c’s. They should disclose if they make any of your information, including the photo, searchable to the crawlers of the biggest engines, giving you (and them, of course) maximum coverage. If you do not want to be widely known as using a dating site that uses this facility, then either sign up following the guidelines above for anonymity or do not sign up at all.

And if you leave a bad comment on dating.org.uk about today’s articles, trust me when I say, I know who you are and I will come and find you! (joke)