Users should be made aware of what constitutes unacceptable behaviour while using a dating service.
Users should be easily able to report any abuse/harm to the dating service and should be strongly encouraged to do so. Operators need to ensure that all reports are responded to appropriately.
Operators should actively moderate all user profiles. They should ensure that appropriate arrangements exist to detect fraudulent or misleading profiles and inappropriate content and to remove such profiles from the site as soon as possible.
Most dating services do not have an issue with underage users. However, services should be vigilant to the possibility of underage users, and if a problem is identified, take steps to tackle the issue. It is up to the service to determine an effective and practical approach for their particular service. There are a number of bodies offering means by which people can verify their digital identity and be tagged accordingly on-site.
Operators should highlight ways in which users can take steps to check another user’s profile; being clear where these may be helpful but not 100% assured. A Facebook profile is a much-used tool but does not “prove” an identity.
Operators should be alert too to the possibility of under 18s trying to join a site. Automated and human profile checking and monitoring thereafter and the limits to the use of a service by those without a paid subscription might generally provide an adequate package of prevention. Services which are more niche in nature and possibly more likely to prompt younger and too young users should give thought to the value of additional messages of deterrence.
Operator staff should be alert to any report suggesting another user is behaving in ways that are a cause for concern, distress or actual harm. Services should have the ability to remove such users. If serious issues arise operators should not hesitate to direct a user to report the matter to their local police force. Operators may also see the case for checking whether the individual in question has been in contact with others on the service and might pose some threat to the safety of these other users.
Operators may have cases where it is appropriate to refer a user with concerns to agencies that specialise in these matters. The ODA site lists a number of these agencies.
Some of these agencies, including the Suzi Lamplugh Trust and other charitable entities can provide staff training on how to handle potentially difficult calls or those of a sensitive nature. This requires capabilities beyond those needed to manage subscription and service operation enquiries.