3. Be photo savvy.
Morton recommends saving an image with a generic filename, like “photo,” before uploading it to a dating site.
“Do not include your first or last name,” she says, as this can easily reveal your true identity before you’re ready to share it with someone you meet online.
Likewise, she advises, it’s best to choose pictures with generic backgrounds. “Don’t have your home with street numbers in the background,” she says, and cautions against including anything distinctive of your hometown, to be safe.
4. Be careful when signing on in a public place like a coffee shop.
The greater number of users on a public network means an increased risk of having your online security breached. If the dating site you’re using doesn’t use the standard Web encryption HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure), you can download a browser add-on like HTTPS Everywhere to ensure your communications are safe from hacking.
5. Take responsibility for your online security; don't expect dating sites to do it for you.
While dating sites take certain preventive measures to protect you and your information (like not requiring a phone number at sign-up; if they don't have that information, there's zero risk of it falling into the wrong hands), it's still really on the users to watch their own backs.
Skorick says that part of the goal in founding MyAKA.com was to raise awareness to the fact that what we share online isn't always as secure as it seems. To this end, MyAKA has partnered with Break The Cycle, a nonprofit that works to end teen dating violence and abuse.
“Together we’re working to educate tomorrow’s online daters,” Skorick says.
Morton agrees that it’s on the individual to make sure their online dating experience is safe. If you wouldn't want, say, your coworkers or your mom to see a certain photo of you, it's probably better to hold off on sending until you're sure the recipient is trustworthy.
“Online trust is pretty superficial,” Morton says. "Wait until you get that 'offline' trust."