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Bad online romance? Paid background checks are trending


Adults choose to pay professionals to thoroughly check potential love interests met online.

A whopping 73% of adults globally have vetted online matches in some form, with half choosing to abort the relationship based on the results, a recent study by NortonLifeLock shows.

A survey of adults over 18 years old in eleven countries all over the world found that the most common tactics for vetting a prospective date found online are scrolling through social media profiles (49%).

Typing a name into a search again came in second (37%), with looking up a profile on a professional networking site in third place (30%).

Others, however, take the vetting further, with 28% of respondents looking up a dating match’s friends or family members on social media.

A staggering one in seven takes it as far as paying for a background check on a prospective partner. Kevin Roundy, technical director at NortonLifeLock, thinks that love interests can quickly turn dark.

“Some people are taking vetting to the next level, and it can quickly cross over into concerning territory with the access we have to personal information,” Roundy explained.

stalking-stalkerware-creepware
Image by Mika Baumeister, Unsplash.

Common tactics

The study shows that around 10% of Americans admit they used a payment app to check on someone else’s public activity or tried using other means to find out what kind of music a love interest might be into.

One in five Americans said they accidentally liked an old social media post while ‘researching’ the feed history of a person they were interested in.

Trust issues seem to be most apparent with romantic interests. 42% of Americans admit to checking in on their current or former partners without their knowledge or consent.

13% went as far as checking in on current or former partner’s whereabouts via a location-sharing app, with one in ten using stalkerware for spying.

Researchers also found that members of the younger generation (18-39) are far more accepting of online stalking compared to others. 39% of them said they‘re likely to stalk a current or former partner, compared to 12% in the age groups over 40.

Final decision

The survey found that 48% of adults who looked up their prospective partners online have unmatched or declined a date after learning new information.

The most common reason (20%) behind the decision was finding out that a person lied about their personal details. Discovering that an online picture did not align with a dating profile picture came second (18%).

Adults in India take the information online most seriously, with 76% deciding not to continue the interest. Around half of the adults in the US (51%), France (45%), and the UK (44%) did the same.

Information found online concerned adults in Japan the least, with only one in five unmatching or declining a date after learning new information online.

The survey was conducted in partnership with the Harris Poll in the US, Brazil, France, UK, Italy, Germany, India, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.


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