Love in the time of Social Media

If there is one thing that most humans have in common, it is the need to love and be loved in return. Our constant quest for companionship, validation, acceptance, and ultimately love, is what pushes us to be social, to better ourselves, and is how the population grows. It is also, however, our Achilles heel. It makes us vulnerable and susceptible, targets for those who would take great advantage of said needs and who prey on those simply looking for love. And while this concept is not new, the prevalence of romance schemes and the resulting financial loss is increasing at an alarming rate with the help of social media.

I know we’ve just met, but I think I love you. Can I borrow $5000?

As I mentioned, love scams aren’t a new phenomenon, they have been occurring on dating sites for probably as long as dating sites have existed. But what IS new is the spread of these frauds to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the list most likely goes on. Romantic connections have become so prevalent on Facebook that they recently created their own dating app! These frauds begin with a seemingly harmless DM from a stranger, but can quickly escalate to much more.

According to a CTV News article, romance frauds are the number one fraud in Canada. It is estimated that in 2018, Canadian victims lost more than 22.5 million to this type of scam (Otis, 2019, p. 3). This figure represents the losses of just 760 victims, meaning that victims were out, on average, nearly $30,000 each (Otis, 2019, p. 6). And while that sounds bad, it gets worse: the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) believes that only 5% of victims are filing reports (Otis, 2019, p. 3). (Note: 2018 was the most recent year for which I could find statistics, but based on trends, we can assume these figures will be higher for 2019.)

There are some warning signs that people should look out for:

  • Someone quickly develops a long-distance romantic relationship with you.
  • They claim to live nearby but work overseas.
  • They claim to be involved in a lucrative business but need financial help. (Otis, 2019, p. 14)
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

What can singles do to play it safe? The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has some tips:

Photo by Skitterphoto from Pexels
  • Never send money or gifts to a sweetheart you haven’t met in person.
  • Talk to someone you trust about this new love interest. In the excitement about what feels like a new relationship, we can be blinded to things that don’t add up. Pay attention if your friends or family are concerned.
  • Take it slowly. Try a reverse image search of the profile pictures. If they are associated with a different name or with details that don’t match up, it is a scam. (Fletcher, 2019, p. 6)

To love, or not to love.

Given the prevalence of romance fraud on social media, one has to wonder whether people should refrain from any type of romantic relationship online. When people lose their life savings in the search for love online, one would think that perhaps a return to the old ways of meeting face to face first might be best. But the convenience of meeting people online, of meeting a greater number of people in a shorter amount of time, might be something people just don’t want to give up. The question then becomes, how much are we willing to wager that we’ve actually found our love, in the time of social media?

References:

Fletcher, Emma. (2019, February 12). Romance Scams Rank #1 on Total Reported Loses. U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved from https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/blogs/data-spotlight/2019/02/romance-scams-rank-number-one-total-reported-losses

Otis, Daniel. (2019, February 13). No. 1 Scam: Romance Fraud Costs Canadians More Than 22.5M in 2018. CTVNews.ca. Retrieved from https://www.ctvnews.ca/lifestyle/no-1-scam-romance-fraud-cost-canadians-more-than-22-5m-in-2018-1

Facebook: Love in the time of Social Media: A look at the modern day love affair. https://bit.ly/2Uc0Hto

Twitter: Love in the time of Social Media #Moderndaylove #RomanceScams https://bit.ly/2Uc0Hto

7 thoughts on “Love in the time of Social Media

  1. Hi Rachel!

    When I saw the title of your blog entry, I was immediately looking forward to reading it! I quite liked how you included warning signs and some tips for online dating. Your blog was very well organized, and it made me want to do more research on the subject, starting with the resources you included. After all, all of my friends who are in serious relationships, are engaged, and even married have met their significant others through a dating site or app.

    This blog post is specifically focused on the negative aspects of online dating, and that works great as both an opinion article, and as a cautionary article. You are absolutely right, there are dangers to online dating, and one should always be careful. What I found interesting in my research was also the positive aspects of online dating: being able to connect with someone you probably wouldn’t meet in real life without social media, being able to get to know a person a bit before going on a date, as well as personality testing and matching to be able to find someone more compatible. In my opinion, I think it comes down to looking at both the negative and positive aspects of dating sites and assessing the risks when deciding if online dating is right for you. And even to assess it yourself if you think you might be susceptible to fraud. Then the decision on whether you should just meet people face-face or if you should also engage in online dating be taken.

    • Wow, what a compliment, thank you Kyra! I’m always concerned that the title sounds much more interested to me that it will to anyone else, so what a boost to my self-esteem – thank you!
      I totally agree with you that there is a VERY positive side to world of online dating, and meeting potential partners using social media. To ensure somewhat of a focus to my blog I only looked at one side, but am so glad that you commented about the other. I too have many friends that have met their partners online, and it didn’t cost them any money, haha!

  2. Hi Rachel,
    This past weekend, I was wondering how ‘social distancing’ will affect the dating scene. In a way, I think it will strengthen relationships. People finding creative ways to share that they care without physical contact – – by the words they choose, the info they share, the number of times they contact eachother throughout the day etc.

    There have always been con artists and swindlers in the world, but I like to think that eventually they will find love and may need to heed your advice/warnings…KARMA!

  3. Hi Gail, love this comment. Totally agree that with social distancing in place, for who knows how long, people will have to find alternative ways of getting to know each other. I just hope that ‘not being able to meet up’ isn’t something that people (read scammers) take additional advantage of.

  4. Hi Rachel,
    Yes, the common need among people is the need for love and companionship, but it is better alone better than facing romance fraud. I know someone who was exposed to romance fraud after she got to know a person outside Canada. After he came her she found out that he was planning to come to Canada by playing this love game. It was too late to discover this scam after breaking her heart and wasting her time and money. It is easy to deceive others through social media because we cannot see the whole picture, we see a small part of the image, and it is usually fine and excellent because it is easy to embellish in look, morality, and attitude through the social media.
    Thanks for raising this important issue.

  5. Hi Raghad, thank you so much for this comment, and sharing this story. I am so sorry that this happened to your friend, her story shows how the consequences can be so much more than just financial – a broken heart can be hard to heal. I really like your comment about how we see only a small part of the picture – totally agree, and now I’m wishing I had included that myself!

  6. Hi Rachel,
    Great topic! Love is definitely one of those universals, we all want to be loved one way or another, so this can appeal to pretty much everyone! I’m not going to lie, I have made some poor choices when it comes to online dating in the past, but thankfully I’ve never been scammed! Maybe I never had enough money for any of the scammers to bother with me lol! I’m shocked at how much scammers are able to get out of people on average, what a horrible thing to do to people.

    I think it’s easy to feel connected to someone online within ever having met them, which can be amazing with the right person, but extremely dangerous if it’s the wrong person. Adding those warning signs is great for those of us who use online dating because you really don’t think about some of these things in the moment. I know looking back now, I don’t think I’ve ever even considered that idea that someone might be trying to scam me through online dating.

    I think the suggestion of talking to a trusted friend when you start dating someone is a good idea as well, it can give a more objective opinion of a new love interest since it really is so easy to get caught up in the rush of feeling like you’ve met someone special.

    I like your use of subheadings and photos too, it broke up your topics nicely in terms of readability!

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