Safety First - your questions answered
Why is this initiative necessary?
Dating services and social media channels are the start point for more than a third of all new relationships pretty much everywhere around the globe and are used by millions daily. But services that involve getting to know someone online and then, hopefully in person, raises issues of safety and welfare.
Dating services cannot vet every user in every regard. Nor can they go along on a date! But services can be clear on the behaviours they expect and the ones they will not tolerate online. They can use technology and human monitoring and reporting tools to block fraudsters, people behaving in a wholly unacceptable way and any who try to by-pass age barriers. And they can give signposting or other help if a real problem arises.
The initiative tries to capture the things a well-run service should be addressing in their policies and processes. It is based on the good practice we have seen across a range of services and, as such, reflects the efforts services already make to keep dating as safe as possible.
How do we know who is a member of the Safety First initiative?
We took a conscious decision that the initiative was in the form of guidance and good practice material that any service could tap into and use as they think best fits their circumstances. There are legal and operational constraints over some of the checks a service can make and in how they might control what users want and choose to do.
We are refreshing the ODA logo used on member sites to highlight how they, and we, put safety first. We hope this will further encourage new members to step up and demonstrate their commitment to safer dating.
Engaging more international and global entities to use the Framework and Model will demonstrate the ongoing role that the ODA plays in encouraging a safe environment for the dating industry to continue to develop. We are encouraging all mainstream dating services whether in the UK, the US or elsewhere to become members of the ODA.
What comes next to build on this work?
Going forward the ODA will continue to work with members and others to see where and how it would be helpful to provide supplementary guidance on individual parts of the Framework and Model Code. Techniques for moderating services as they evolve is one possible priority area. We know also that some services think they need to be more specific over expected and unacceptable behaviour on services, particularly when they involve more by way of streamed or other content.
Over time, we will also review the initiative and explore how to improve it.
Can services use the Framework but not the Model Code?
Does the ODA member logo show a service is using the Framework and Model Code?
The Framework builds on the ODA Guiding Principles which all members have committed to and is a demonstration of commitment to standards. Beyond that it is for members, like any other company, to use the tools to review the processes they have in place for their services.
What should a user do if they have had a bad experience on a service?
A user should always report any problems to the service provider. As the Framework for User Safety sets out the company should have reporting mechanisms in place to deal with any issues.
The ODA website also has a list of useful links of organisations that users may find helpful to contact and we encourage services also to make this advice readily available to users