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But here’s one telling, albeit only suggestive, comparison: The Pew Research Center found that between 20 the proportion of American adults using dating services tripled.
In Britain, attacks related to online dating increased almost six-fold over roughly the same period.
In 2011 began screening US members against a database of known sex offenders, after a woman who said she had been raped brought a class-action lawsuit against the site.
In the UK, Match was also implicated in the case of serial rapist Jason Lawrence, who in 2016 was convicted of raping or assaulting seven women he met on the site, after contacting thousands.
Nevertheless, while app-related assaults were still rare, they were rising fast enough for the NCA to flag the emergence of “a new type of sexual offender.” Usually a man, he’s less likely than other sexual offenders to have committed any kind of crime before, but instead exploits the “ease of access and arm-chair approach” to meeting people that dating sites enable.
Of course, sexual assaults related to online dating may be on the rise just because online dating itself is on the rise.
Not all people who report attacks mention whether an app was involved.
Victims, as well as perpetrators, hide crimes: Only an estimated 17% of all rapes, app-linked or not, are reported to police, the NCA said.
Dating companies are being pushed to better protect users, but some seem reluctant to do more— or even to talk about whether there’s a problem.The online environment could also lull users into thinking they know someone, and therefore making themselves vulnerable.To date, much of the research on online dating has been conducted by dating companies themselves.In the absence of hard data, it’s anecdotes that shape the conversation about online dating safety.In 2016 Stephen Port was convicted in the UK of killing four young men he met on the gay dating app Grindr.
The trouble is that statistics on crimes linked to online dating are sparse.