There’s no denying the incredible impact technology has had on every aspect of our lives; from ordering a pizza in seconds to Googling a song stuck in your head that you just can’t seem to remember. Perhaps the most significant way smartphones have changed our lives, is in the ability to find love and hook up for a date using one of the many dating apps available.
Most people have tried a dating app at least once, for kicks, if for no other reason; or at least know someone who has. According to the Pew Research Center, 40% of Americans use dating apps to meet people.
But with such a breadth of apps to choose from, how do eligible singles remain secure, and not ruin their personal reputation? You might be wondering: how are dating apps and your personal reputation connected? Consider this:
A friend of mine, let’s call her “Katie,” decided to give Tinder a try. Tinder requires you to have a Facebook account in order to use it. Katie loves Facebook, happily linked her account to Tinder, and began using the app. Katie completed a 500-character bio, uploaded six images of herself, then linked her Tinder account to her Instagram profile, which included info about the company where she worked.
Guess what happened next.
The Date That Never Happened
Katie started swiping left and right, searching for her knight in shining armor, and – hooray! – she found a match! His name was Greg, and they both had a lot in common; both had never been married before, never had kids, but planned to have a family one day. Greg asked Katie out to dinner and they agreed to meet. But the day before her big date, Katie’s knight in shining armor suddenly unmatched her, and their magical love connection was lost. Much to Katie’s dismay, the same thing happened 5 more times.
Katie began to wonder what was wrong. Why were all these eligible bachelors suddenly bailing on her at the last minute? Was there something wrong with her? Katie’s potential suitors could easily find her on Facebook since she left information about her workplace on Tinder and linked her profiles within the app. From there, Katie’s potential matches learned her first and last name, which they then used to perform a simple Google search.
Katie decided to Google herself and the information that came up shocked her. According to the background check website, Spokeo.com, Katie was married. Katie decided to explore another website, Whitepages.com, which indicated she had a criminal record. Katie’s stomach sank. She dug deeper and discovered the website, MyLife.com, which listed her reputation score, while other sites displayed her annual income, age, previous addresses, and even her current residence.
“One day, you come home from work believing your biggest problem is a box of crackers in your pantry that’s past its due date, and the next morning, you find out that according to many background check websites, you have kids, debts, arrest records, and the worst part, is you can’t prove any of this information is false, because nowadays, people rely too much on what is written on the Internet.” – Katie says.
So, what do you do if you find false data about yourself online or simply want to keep your life private?
- Start by Googling yourself. Once you type your first and last name, click search, and you’ll find many websites you’ve never heard of claiming to know something about you. These sites are called data brokers, and they collect, sell, and share your personal information with third parties. This information includes your name, age, marital status, financial records, and even speculate if you’re a trustworthy person or a good employee. Based on this information, people will judge you. So it’s important to know what Google has on you. Remember: forewarned is forearmed.
- Minimize the personal information you share on social networks. Data brokers collect a lot of stuff through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like. Never post your phone number, street address or current location online.
- Remove your data from background check websites. This step is the most important and the most time-consuming. The problem is, these sites all have different opt-out procedures; some even require letters and faxes! It will take time, but it’s worth it to preserve your privacy. But the work doesn’t stop there. You’ll want to keep monitoring these sites to make sure your information hasn’t been relisted.
As for Kate, she turned to OneRep, an online privacy company. It’s a paid service that removes your information from 53 major background check websites and continually monitors them to make sure your information isn’t relisted. OneRep also offers a free 5-day trial so you can test out the service and get a free report listing the websites posting information about you. And if you can’t afford their service, OneRep also provides FREE self-opt-out instructions for every major data broker website, so you can handle the removals on your own.
If you are interested in even more lifestyle-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels then we have a lot to choose from.