Online stalking: Majority of dating app users prey on potential dates

According to a new report by cybersecurity experts from Norton, users of dating portals and apps are likely to spy on their match. More than half of the German respondents (52 percent) who go looking for a partner online admit to checking potential partners in social media, via search engines and in professional networks. Some even spend money on background checks.


Anyone looking for their ideal partner online wants to find out more about their match. The online survey conducted by The Harris Poll among 1,000 German adults aged 18 and over revealed that almost a quarter (24 percent) of the surveyed users of online dating portals searched for the social media profiles of the suggested search people.


The survey shows that a quarter of those surveyed check potential partners by searching for names in search engines (23 percent) and almost one in six looks at the profiles of the match on professional networks such as LinkedIn (15 percent). This intrusive behavior is compounded when the match is unknowingly subjected to a background check. After all, 7 percent of the users of online dating portals surveyed admit that they have already paid money to create a background profile.


Many master detectives


Interestingly, all of this can result in never meeting. Almost two-fifths of the surveyed users of online dating websites or apps (39 percent) say they have rejected a match after their research brought new information about the person to light. Over a tenth found photos that suggested false information on their dating profile (11 percent), and nearly one in ten found photos online that they found disturbing (8 percent).


“The report shows just how much strangers can find out about us – strangers who just found us through a suggestion on a dating app or website,” said Sarah Uhlfelder, Senior Director of Strategic Partners EMEA at NortonLifeLock. “These services are constantly evolving and new functions and interaction options are being added. But it’s also important to realize that the information you give out on dating profiles can compromise your privacy. Many users do not shy away from combing through everything that has ever been put online. It is important to protect personal information. Because people you’re suggested as a match to often find out more about you than you realize.”


It is well known that giving too much information online is risky. Despite this, more than four-fifths of respondents who have searched for a partner online use their real first and last name (81 percent) on dating portals, thereby endangering their online privacy. Of those surveyed who had previously met someone they met online, only 7 percent let friends or family know the meeting point before the date.


Here are some other findings from the study:


  • Even those who are not registered on a dating app or website can be checked. 6 percent of the study participants from Germany admit that they have already searched music portals for the profile of a person they were in love with. More than a quarter (26 percent) of respondents between the ages of 18 and 39 inadvertently “deep like” their crush while scrolling through old social media posts and photos.
  • MPeople in a committed relationship (or newly broken up) should resist the urge to stalk their partner. Almost one in three respondents who have been in a relationship (31 percent) admit to spying on their current or ex-partner online without their knowledge or consent even though nearly 80 percent of respondents (79 percent) believe it is detrimental to the relationship. While this raises different concerns than the security risks associated with online dating, the results show that certain behavioral patterns are emerging among adults in the digital world.
  • Online stalking is particularly prevalent among younger, tech-savvy users. According to the study, almost two-thirds of Generation Z respondents from all 10 countries have[1] (65 percent) have already spied on a current ex-partner on the Internet. As might be expected, online stalking occurs far more frequently among users of the younger generation than among older users (Millennials: 57 percent; Generation X: 29 percent; Baby Boomers: 11 percent). The increased willingness to stalk others online can also be explained by the fact that digital natives are more likely to have the necessary technical knowledge to do so.

The full Norton Cyber ​​Safety Insights Report 2022, which includes more information on online stalking trends and new insights on general cybersecurity issues, can be found here.


About the study


The report is based on an online survey of 10,003 adults 18 years and older, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of NortonLifeLock, of whom 444 have used an online dating app or website. The survey was conducted from November 15 to December 7, 2021 in Australia (n=1002), Brazil (n=1000), France (n=1001), Germany (n=1000), India (n=1000), Italy ( n=1000), Japan (n=1000), New Zealand (n=1000), the United Kingdom (n=1000) and the United States (n=1000). Some of the data were weighted by age, gender, ethnic/cultural origin, region, education, marital status, household size, and household income to obtain a representative cross-section across society. No theoretical sampling error can be calculated.


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