OPW - July 2 - Senior executives from some of the largest dating companies in the industry participated in a panel discussion via webinar to examine the current state of online safety in the dating space and to outline their extensive operations for protecting their users as much as possible from inappropriate content, financial scams, or potential acts of violence.
The webinar, "Online Safety in the Dating and Social Entertainment Market", was hosted by Northland Capital Markets. Participating from the dating industry were Geoff Cook, CEO of The Meet Group, Casey Burton, Director and Senior Counsel at Match Group, and Jeronimo Folgueira, CEO of Spark Networks.
Representing the panel from various safety and online standards organizations were Larry Magid, CEO of Connect Safely, Stephen Balkam, CEO and Founder of the Family Online and Safety Institute, and George Kidd, CEO of the Online Dating Association.
"We put safety at the core of everything we do," said Geoff Cook, CEO of The Meet Group. "Our users are here to interact and connect – and we think the goal of a safety operation is to promote a safe environment free of bullying, hate speech, and abuse to encourage making meaningful connections."
Topics covered during the discussion included: the current state of online safety, content moderation and law enforcement, working with the app store partners, how technology can help users feel safer, and strategies for building a safer online community.
While safety will always be a major focus in the dating industry, Larry Magid, CEO of Connect Safely, wanted to set the record straight in two specific areas.
"One observation is that between the early 1990s and the mid-2010s, while Internet usage was on a steep rise, violence, both against children and sexual violence in general, has gone down," said Magid. "So anybody who wants to correlate online dating with increased sexual violence is actually looking at the numbers in exactly the wrong way. So while I can't claim data that shows that online dating has made things safer, I can say that during the period that online dating has risen, violence has gone down."
"The other thing to understand is that nobody can guarantee 100% safety on anything, whether it's food safety or transportation safety, or safety using tools," he added. "Nobody can ever say with absolute certainty that nothing bad is going to happen. What we can do is have best practices in an industry (like online dating) – and we can have consumer education."