Ten ways to avoid getting murdered using Facebook Dating

There are hundreds of dating apps out there, serving every kind of person you can imagine. Facebook thinks you shouldn't need a different app for dating, and should instead use the app you already use every day. With millions of people using Facebook all over the world daily, it seems likely you'd be able to connect with someone nearby in a hurry. The question is, can you trust that person? Are you going to be safe with someone you've met through Facebook Dating?

Of course not — any monster can have a Facebook account. However, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe.

Be careful with your location

Like most modern dating apps, Facebook Dating wants your location to match you with people in your immediate area. However, it won't use the location you provided Facebook in your profile. Instead, it grabs the location for where you were when you set up your profile. This means if you're at work and you create your account, the default settings will connect you with people within 60 miles of that location.

You can, of course, change your location and how far you are looking for people, but the location change is always based on the place you currently exist. It doesn't appear as though there's a manual way to adjust it.

The real reason you want to be careful with your location, obviously, is that information makes tracking you somewhat easy. The more specific you are the greater the risk somebody can stalk you if they check out your profile. Plus, in the event of a data breach, your location data in the app could be quite valuable to someone with ill intent.

Don't use photos with your home or favorite places in them

This applies to everything you share online, but is particularly important with dating services. Facebook Dating auto-chooses three photos in addition to your profile photo to share with people who are looking for matches. Make sure you look at those photos carefully before choosing which should be shared. If your photo is in your front yard with your house behind you, or inside of an easy-to-recognize local bar or restaurant, avoid using it.

As a general rule, any time you want to use a photo make sure the things in that photo are not easily identifiable. That makes stalking you at least slightly more difficult, which is always a good thing.

Block early, and block often

Before you ever go looking through potential connections on Facebook Dating, learn how to use the Block button. Unlike the Block tool on Facebook proper, you can quickly search for accounts you want to block from within this tool. This will make it so you can block exes and relatives from seeing your dating profile and making things super awkward for everyone.

You should also be comfortable using the Block button when a connection turns out to not really work out in your favor. If it turns out you don't have a lot in common with someone, or you're not happy with the way a conversation is going, block them and move on. That will keep them from seeing your profile, so if you're uncomfortable it will create a small barrier for them.

Reach for the "Take a Break" button when you're overwhelmed

Not every connection goes according to plan, and sometimes those bad conversations can happen more than once in a row. If you need a break, there's a setting for that. Here's how you find it:

  1. Tap the Settings icon in the top right of the Facebook Dating homescreen.
  2. Tap the General tab at the top of the Settings screen.
  3. Tap the Take a Break slider and watch it turn purple.
  4. Tap Continue to confirm you want to enable Take a Break.

Once you have enabled this, your profile will no longer show up in search results. This will not stop you from chatting with people you have already connected with, though.

Avoid that 'Secret Crush' thing like the plague

Facebook Dating has this super cute feature that allows you to take people you are already Facebook friends with and add them to a secret group about how you like them. If they add you to their version of Secret Crush, Facebook Dating will tell both of you and encourage you to talk to one another about hooking up.

This. Shit. Is. A. Trap.

Facebook's history of data security is nowhere near good enough to trust it with this information. A mass leak of everyone's Secret Crush list would be devastating, and undoubtedly start fights and ruin lives. Seriously, don't use this feature. Ever.

Tell a friend when you meet someone in real life

Don't meet a stranger you've been talking to on Facebook Dating without letting someone know you're going to do so. I'm not saying you should view every single person in the world as a threat to your life, but at least if somebody knows you're meeting with a stranger there's some additional information out there if you go missing.

If someone knows you were talking to a guy or gal on Facebook Dating, that could make finding you much easier. Not something anyone wants to think about, but something simple you can do for a small sense of safety.

Also, don't forget that taser.

Avoid leaving Facebook Dating to chat with new connections

Lots of dating services have chat systems, and almost all of them suck. There's a good chance if you're going to use Facebook Dating that you already use Facebook Messenger, which is more or less what the chat system inside this Dating mode is. That means you're less likely to leave Facebook and start a conversation somewhere else, which happens a lot in other places.

However, like those other dating apps, you should avoid leaving the relative safety of the dating app if you can. Those messages are recorded with the service provider, and can be used in case the other person you're using becomes dangerous, threatening, or self harmful.

Don't meet in a place you've never been

This might be one of those common sense things, but it really needs to be spelled out. Don't meet strangers in strange places. Pick a public place you're familiar with, so you're a little more comfortable and there's a lot of people around if you need to make a sudden exit.

Report abusive or scam-focused profiles

This may surprise you, but not everyone who uses dating services are doing so to hook up. Some of them want into your bank account, and some just want to hurt people. If you're ever in a position where it seems like the conversation isn't all about connecting and having fun, you should probably exit the conversation.

And if it seems like the person you're talking to is actively going to harm someone else in some way, there are reporting tools you can use to let Facebook know those people are up to no good.

Delete your profile if you're not sure you like this service

Not everyone is going to like Facebook Dating. If you end up being one of those people, don't leave old or outdated information up in a profile you're not using. Just delete the profile entirely and move on. Here's how you do that:

  1. Tap the Settings icon in the top right of the Facebook Dating homescreen.
  2. Tap the General tab at the top of the Settings screen.
  3. Tap the Delete Profile button.
  4. Confirm you want to do this by tapping Delete Profile again.

To be clear, this will not kill your actual Facebook profile, just the information you decided to share in Facebook Dating.

Final thoughts

Facebook Dating may or may not be the service for you, but if you decide to give it a shot please just be safe. Use the tools and people around you to protect yourself, but also go have some fun. Who knows, this may end up bankrupting all of the other dating services and everyone will have no choice but to use this soon anyway.

Russell Holly

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter