Officials and students discuss safety concerns regarding Tinder app

The Internet today provides an array of dating websites.

Tinder, a popular mobile dating app, connects to Facebook and allows users to find people within a certain distance from their current location. When browsing through profiles, a photo, a short biography and the person’s age and first name are visible. Users swipe right if interested in the person and swipe left if not. If both users swipe right, then they are notified and can chat.

Students should be careful with the information they share with others over the Internet, said UNA Police Chief Bob Pastula.

“People are putting their entire lives out on the open net and are ripe for criminal intervention and stalkers,” he said, “There are a lot of bad people out there just looking for opportunities to take advantage of young people.”

Associate Dean of Accreditation and Information Technology Paulette Alexander said students are also at risk for profiling, harassment and bullying.

“You’re providing information that is in some sense very personal and making an individual connection in such a way that you lose a bit of control,” Alexander said.

She said before students use an app like Tinder they should be aware and not be immediately reactive before knowing what they are doing or saying to another person.

Sophomore Haley Fields said she is familiar with Tinder and has known successful relationships have come from it. She said she agrees Tinder is still risky to use.

“You wonder if the person you’re talking to is actually who they say they are,” she said.

Sophomore Cole Westmoreland said Tinder has its pros and cons, but students could be exposing themselves to risks such as imposters, and it should not be used to flirt with strangers.

“I do not think Tinder is entirely bad from a local perspective,” he said. “It can be fun when browsing through people you know. I would probably use this app if I was still in high school, but as an adult who pays his bills I find that this app is used to find more playthings than meaningful relationships.”

Pastula said students who use Tinder should let friends know before they meet another user and check back with their friends from time to time via text messages or phone calls to let them know they are safe.

He said the best protection is always being aware of the risks involved.