It is past time for social media and dating apps to face the music and permanently eliminate fraud, dishonesty, and misinformation from their platforms. Initially, social media and dating applications were little pockets of the internet with just a few thousand members. Facebook and Twitter have grown to the point that they can now sway elections, create or destroy vaccination efforts, and affect markets.
Tinder and Bumble, two popular dating apps, are not far behind, with millions of people using them to find their “forever” partner. However, the games and fun have now been done; Profit has been prioritized before trust and safety. You have opened the door to online identity theft and fraud.
We all know someone who has been “catfished” on Bumble or Tinder, and we all know people who have been victims of online Twitter and Facebook frauds. Every day, we learn about fresh situations in which criminals steal identities — or make up new ones — in order to perpetrate fraud, distribute disinformation for political and financial gain, or encourage hate speech. In most sectors, users using false identities have little effect on the bottom line. When trust is shattered on dating and social media sites, however, it is harmful to both users and society as a whole. Moreover, a person’s financial, psychological, and sometimes bodily consequences are genuine.
So, who is responsible for putting a halt to or countering this spike in fraud? It is clear that the platforms themselves are not the problem. Despite the fact that some profess to take action. Facebook removed 1.3 billion bogus accounts in the fourth quarter of 2020. That is not even close. In reality, today’s social media sites and dating apps only perform the absolute least to protect users against fraud. While rudimentary AI and human moderators assist, the sheer amount of users overwhelm them.
Facebook claims to have 35,000 workers monitoring material; while that sounds like a lot, it works out to around one moderator for every 82,000 accounts. In addition, as bad actors get more adept, employing deepfakes and emerging criminal strategies such as synthetic fraud, their scale grows. Even the most sophisticated web users are victims of these frauds. Social media and dating sites have been chastised for taking too long to address the issue, but what can do?
It is easy to envisage this scenario: you meet someone online and strike up a discussion with him or her. The individual says the appropriate things and asks the appropriate questions. You begin to experience kinship as the relationship becomes more “genuine.” It quickly accelerates; all of your defenses are down, and you become immune to red indicators. You even go so far as to call it love. You and your new significant other make plans to meet in person for the first time. They claim they are unable to make the trip due to a lack of funds. You transfer the money with confidence and love, only for this individual to disappear shortly.
While some catfishing events end with minimal harm, others, such as the one described above, might result in financial extortion and criminal conduct. According to the Federal Trade Commission, reported losses from romance frauds hit a new high of $304 million in 2020. Actual losses in this underreported sector are likely to be enormously larger, especially when “gray areas” like internet begging are included. However, most dating apps do not provide a mechanism to check users’ identities.
Some popular applications, such as Tinder, make identity verification optional, while others, well, do not. Who wants to make a new subscriber’s life difficult? However, voluntary verification is only the tip of the iceberg. These firms must do more to prevent access to fraudulent and anonymous identities. We, as a society, must insist that they take action because of the harm they cause to societies and their clients.