Whether you're meeting people on dating apps or making friends on forums, stay as safe as possible online by following our tips.
Choose your profile picture wisely
If you have a photo of yourself as your profile picture, make sure you don’t include photos that people can use to identify more about you. This could be anything from a photo with your house in the background to a photo with your college lanyard or work uniform on. It’s also a good idea to not use the same photo as your Instagram/Facebook profile picture, as someone can Google image search you using it and find out more about you than you’d think.
Don’t talk too much about your life
If you don't know someone in real life, don’t let them know things like where you live, go to school/college, work etc. When you meet someone online you really have no clue who they actually are, so better to be safe than sorry. Nothing wrong with a bit of mystery anyway!
If you meet someone, tell a friend where you’re going and who you’re meeting
Someone should know where you are and who you’re meeting, whether that’s a friend or family member. You can always get a friend to come with you and wait until the person comes, just so you’re not alone if the person doesn’t turn out to be who they said.
Meet in a public place
Meet in a public place so you can get to know them more before spending time in private with them. It doesn’t need to be somewhere ridiculously busy, it can be a quiet restaurant or coffee shop. Just make sure there are a few other people around the first time you meet - better being safe than sorry.
Watch your drink
Make sure you’re keeping an eye on your drink. Some assaults reported locally have been people who have had their drinks spiked by someone they were on a date with (particularly on campuses). Go to the bar with your date, so you know when you take your drink, it’s only been in the hands of the bartender.
Take it easy on the alcohol
If you're meeting someone for a date, you can’t give consent to any sort of sex if you’re under the influence of alcohol (or drugs). Alcohol and drugs make it more difficult to make good decisions, and make you less aware of your surroundings, which isn’t good if you’re with someone you don’t really know.