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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Online Dating: Should You Worry About Your Privacy?

Posted By on Thu, Feb 3, 2011 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge DearAnnaWeb.jpeg

I finally broke down and joined an online dating site. However, I'm worried about my privacy, especially since I am a working professional and don't relish the thought of clients or business associates accidentally stumbling across my profile and reading about how much I liked
Amelie. Should I just get over it already or do I have a right to be concerned about not having control over who can see my private information?


Amelie? No. That will get you so much ass. Don't ever change that. 

I don't know about eHarmony, if that is indeed the site you joined, Mr. SecretPants, but OkCupid recently upped its privacy settings to tackle just such a concern. According to The Washington Post, it launched a new feature recently that allows users to pick and choose who sees their profiles. This is what the site sent in an e-mail to some gay male users, for instance:

You can now hide your OkCupid profile from straight users. This means straight people can't find you in match results (even if they search for gay women), and they can't load your profile page.

Why turn this privacy setting on?

- maybe you're not out to everyone
- maybe you don't want straight dudes hitting on you
- maybe you enjoy clicking checkboxes on web pages

This will, presumably, also cut down on the messages lesbians sometimes get from straight dudes about how they would cease to be gay if only they experienced their superior penises. Even if you're not gay, though, the concept is pretty sweet. Let's say you don't want skeezy old men messaging you - Bam! So long, Nick Nolte! Girls who like Creed? With arms wide closed, bitch! (Actually, I don't think you can filter out by keyword yet. Get on THAT, OkCupid.)

Generally, posting information on online dating sites isn't any more worrisome than posting it on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. Most of the same rules apply, except for a few no-brainers which I will post anyway, because I don't have very much faith in humanity. Don't be a dumbass and share your full name, your address, phone number, credit card, or anything else you wouldn't give to a stranger unless they were really hot. 

Plenty of people are vague on dating sites about what they do in order to protect their identity, while still getting the points of their personality across. For instance, if you're an investment banker, you can just say "soulless." Don't list your company, obviously, and limit the number of photos you share. You have to post at least one photo though, or people will think you are Nick Nolte and then you'll never find true love. 

eHarmony has a feature where you can call someone from a secure, anonymous line if you don't want to give out your phone number to a potential date, though that seems fairly ridiculous to me. Especially since don't we just text each other, anyway?

Social-media mistress Anna Pulley likes to give advice about how to play well with others on the internets. If you have a question about etiquette involving technology, shoot her a question at

Follow us on Twitter: @annapulley and @ExhibitionistSF

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