The creator of a new dating ‘app’ has sought to reassure users after it emerged a murderer used another popular site to meet his victims.
Michelle Cafferty, who created the ‘Did I See U’ earlier this year, issued the advice after Stephen Port was sentenced to life in prison for the murders of four men he met on the dating app Grindr.
Michelle said while most users of such sites are ‘sincere and honest’, people need to use ‘common sense’ when seeing people they have met online.
She said: “It is our priority to ensure all of our users are safe and we take the safety of our users very seriously.
“Unfortunately dating apps just like any other social media platforms can be a target for predators to pray on the vulnerable.
“The safety of those using online dating is a primary concern across the dating industry, however users need to think about their own personal safety too.”
The mum-of-two who grew up in Chesterfield but now lives in Matlock publishes ‘dating safety tips’ on her site. She said that their registration process is ‘in depth and lengthy’ so fake profiles can be filtered out.
As part of this, users must register their mobile phone number and email address with the site and use a clear profile picture of themselves so other users can recognise them in the real world.
“Navigating online dating can be a bit of a minefield, and with people joining dating apps in their thousands unchecked, staying savvy is a must,” she said.
Port was convicted last week of four murders, three rapes, ten counts of administering a substance with intent and four sexual assaults.
Having made connections with his victims on the dating app Grindr, Port lured them to his Barking flat where he would overdose them with GHB, a so called ‘date-rape drug’.
Eight online safety tips that everyone should know...
Michelle says first meetings can be ‘exciting’ but that ‘precautions’ should be followed.
1. Get to know the other person before meeting them offline
2. Meet for the first time in a populated, public location.
3. Inform a friend or family member of your plans and when and where you’re going. If you own a mobile phone, make sure you have it with you.
4. Drive yourself to and from the first meeting.
5. Keep personal items with you at all times.
6. If you are meeting someone a long way away stay in a hotel and keep the location confidential.
7. Ignore any request to send money, especially overseas or by wire transfer.
8. Block and report any suspicious users.