Anyone can meet anyone online, and anyone can be someone else – real or fabricated – over the internet. As a result, dating website Match.com has been conducting sex offender background checks on all members. A screenwriter who met a man, who had six previous conviction of sexual battery, over Match.com a year ago sued the dating website recently; because Match.com started running background checks, however, she has since dropped the suit.
Match.com’s process for screening all possible members involves checking for federal and state offenses but, in the past, was hesitant to do so, claiming sex offender registries aren’t always accurate. Before screening possible members in April, however, Match.com had a disclaimer on their site, stating, essentially, that they are not responsible for members’ profile information.
But, when 20 percent of Americans have met a spouse through an online dating site, shouldn’t Match.com and other similar services make sure that predators aren’t making profiles? For that matter, that anyone with a criminal history – from sex offenders to con artists to scammers – isn’t using such a site for predatory purposes?
While Match.com’s background checks are a start, other websites connecting individuals together should consider such an approach. Tracking a sex offender, however, is not always an easy task, especially as on older social networking sites, such as Myspace.com, names, locations, and ages were not checked; in many cases, members actually fudged this information to get around age restrictions or to conceal identities. Nevertheless, according to a 2010 story from CBS News, Myspace would attempt to find sex offenders by looking up first and last names, birth dates, gender, and zip codes of members on the site.
While everyone should be careful on the internet, especially as information you post can be used against you years down the line, shouldn’t they also feel a moderate sense of security that criminals, predators, and scam artists aren’t infiltrating dating and social networking sites