On August 7th, 2014, Warriena Wright met her date, Gable Tostee, at a seaside resort called Surfers Paradise. Wright was on vacation in Queensland’s Gold Coast and had matched with Tostee on the dating app Tinder. It was their first date and would be Wright’s last. A few hours and a couple drinks later, the date turned hostile back at Tostee’s apartment. On a recording Tostee took during their fight, Wright is heard pleading “just let me go home” after Tostee became aggressive and locked her out on his balcony. Soon after, Wright fell to her death while attempting to escape by climbing to a lower level.
But How Dangerous Are Dating Apps Really?
Warriena Wright isn’t the only one to have encountered trouble using dating apps. There have been murders linked to apps besides Tinder, such as Grindr and Meet Me. Murder, however, lies at the extreme end of the crime spectrum. Crimes such as rape and robbery are much more commonly linked to the apps.
Figures released to the Press Association under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that in 2015, there were at least 412 reported instances of crime related to Tinder and Grindr in England and Wales alone.
“The rising popularity of online dating apps and websites has contributed to an increase in the number of recorded crimes,” said Deputy Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, Andy Cooke. “I would urge those who use online dating apps to be as security conscious as possible and not to share personal data with anyone until they are sure about those they are communicating with.”
Would You Swipe Right on a Serial Killer?
The last time I visited home, my Dad brought up the terrifying idea, “Imagine if Ted Bundy had had a Tinder?” Which got me thinking: how many people would swipe right on a serial killer? Turns out, someone already tested this. The actress and prankster Natalie Walker set up fake profiles for notorious serial killers Charles Manson and Aileen Wuornos, and found they got plenty of matches, despite bios such as, “I want to kill white men.”
It took 3 days for Charles Manson circa 1969 to get 1 match; 8 minutes for Aileen Wuornos circa 1989 to get 12 pic.twitter.com/fZJsiFwN29
— Natalie Walker (@nwalks) February 22, 2016
Aileen hasn't even had to reach out first via message pic.twitter.com/VVcUgVQ8GV
— Natalie Walker (@nwalks) February 22, 2016
Now That I Have You Paranoid- How Do You Stay Safe?
Honestly, it’s highly unlikely you’ll swipe right on a serial killer, be robbed by your date, or experience any other heinous theoretical atrocity. Tinder won’t disclose exact figures, but a 2014 estimate by The New York Times estimated users to be approaching 50 million. With that many users, there are inevitably some troublemakers. The trick then is to swipe safely, so here are five tips on how to do just that.
- Look Before You Swipe: This seems self-explanatory, yet a common Tinder predicament is swiping on people without reading their bios and later discovering quite concerning proclamations like, “I am a demon,” and other definite deal-breakers. Maybe they’ve just got a dark sense of humor, but it’s better to just swipe left on this type.
- Shamelessly Stalk Them Prior: Even if you’re not worried your date is a serial killer, doing a social media background check can prevent against catfishing. If they don’t provide a link to their Instagram or Facebook, ask for it, then check that they are indeed the person in their profile and scan for red flags like sexist memes and weapon selfies.
- Turn On Find My Friends: Always tell a friend where you’re going and who you’re meeting with. Moreover, using the app “Find my Friends” allows your friends to track you in case you change locations.
- Ride Solo: For the same reasons you don’t want to hitchhike alone as a young woman, you shouldn’t accept rides on a first date since your match is technically still a stranger. Make sure you have a way to and from the date, whether that’s Uber, Lyft, or your own car.
- Please Don’t Get Drunk: You already know drinking impairs judgment. Also, this is a bad idea in general since who knows what embarrassing stories you’ll share once intoxicated. Plus, if you’re under 21, it’s illegal and how embarrassing would it be to get your fake ID confiscated at the bar!? Lastly, if you leave your drink unattended with your date, you risk getting roofied. All around bad idea.
Cover Image via Wired.com1
Also published on Medium.