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Can there be an end to disappointing online dates relating to fake profiles?

October 12, 2020

It is safe to say that all of us had the experience of being single at least once in our lives. Whereas online dating formerly used to be regarded as a rather dubious means to find a partner, today, for many singles it is the first option of choice. But how to create the trust that we feel with personal contact in the online dating world? In fact, 10% of all online dating profiles are fake. Just recently, a woman from Hamburg, Germany, created a fake profile for her ex-lover and wrote in his bio "This man is a cheater. Please text me, if you had contact with him."[AF1]

It may not have happened to all of us, but the majority of many online dating platform users have had experience with fake profiles. Not all of them have malicious intent, but also dishonest information on a promising profile can be very disappointing. This not only harms the experience for the user but also has negative consequences for the platform providers who are trusted to provide a safe dating environment for their customers.

Now the question is: Is there is a way to stop catfishing, stop fake profiles, and improve personal experience while online dating? Many platforms already use a 2-factor-authentification for profiles. That means the users verify themselves with their e-mail, mobile phone number, etc. But is this a valid identity verification? What gives me as a single with just intentions the certainty that the profile I matched with is real - a 29-year old man, good looking - and not some50-year old with criminal intent? To create a profile, you only need a working phone number and an e-mail address which nowadays can be created within seconds. There is no certainty and identity verification can be easily tricked.

An efficient and secure way to achieve certainty is identity verification based on vision-technology. It is not enough to verify your account by 2-factor-authentification. To ensure that there is a real person behind a profile and to prevent fake profiles and catfishing entirely, there are 3 factors/steps necessary to need to verify the user’s identity:

  1. ID verification: Does the profile have a valid ID with an image, address, and date of birth?
  2. Profile pictures check: Does the profile picture at least match the ID picture to a certain extent?
  3. Liveness detection: Is the profile creator using real webcam data or previously recorded images?

When we do these checks, we trust that also the other profiles on the platform have a certain level of integrity. Some platforms already offer similar verification, but in most cases, it is only provided for premium members. Also, most platforms do the verification manually, which leads to waiting times of about 24 hours, until a profile picture is verified.

The right balance between transparency and anonymity on online dating platforms is key to a positive experience. Of course, the adventure of anonymous chatting is exciting, and it is the central part of online dating, which shall not be compromised. But at the same time, we want to feel safe and trust in the integrity of the person we are chatting with is. Not with 90%, but near 100% of profiles being real and verified, users will feel safer and thus are willing to interact more, leading to higher satisfaction and successful matches.


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