In the modern world of dating, couples are connecting digitally — even more so in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Before the pandemic began, 30% of all U.S. adults said they have used online dating sites or apps before. Among folks who have never married that number goes up to 52%, and is also higher among adults currently living with a partner at 46%. In 2015, the Pew Research Center found that 59% of people thought online dating was a good way to meet people, whereas just 44% shared that opinion in 2005.
Though its popularity is rising, you may still wonder if online dating is safe. Connecting virtually has risks, and it is key to keep in mind that dating apps don’t conduct criminal background checks on users, so it’s up to each user to determine if they are comfortable meeting up with someone.
But that is all about to change, especially here in Los Angeles, where LA-based company RealMe has started integrating its technology into various dating platforms to make it safer for all of us to use.
The RealMe is a system that helps people be safer when socializing or transacting online. The system also helps people view backgrounds of people they connect with (access to criminal, arrest and court records) for safety reasons before meeting up with someone, and helps perform safer peer to peer interactions overall.
We sat down exclusively with the founder and CEO of the company Jeffrey Tinsley to learn more about how his game-changing technology is helping lead the way for a safer dating experience.
- How have you seen your services help impact the lives of those in Los Angeles who are using apps to date and connect with others?
What RealMe does isn’t specific to Los Angeles. It’s specific to everywhere people meet, communicate, do business, socialize; at least, people doing those things everywhere in the United States. Time and time again, people have told me how they’ve used our service to check up on others for dating and business. But specific to Los Angeles, this is a unique town — Hollywood. People come here to be famous, and along the way, there’s a lot of posturing and storytelling, people claiming to be something or someone they’re not. You can get to the truth about someone quickly with RealMe.
- What key things can RealMe do for people to stay safe?
RealMe offers one of the most important things people need to stay safe – information, accurate information about other people. We all meet others all the time, online and off, and when we do, we have to decide if we’re going to let them in our lives or we want to get involved in theirs, dating, business, or if we just want to be friends with someone. We won’t know much about these people other than what they tell us or write on a profile. Naturally, people tell us what they think makes them look best. Unfortunately, that might not always be the truth. So RealMe gives you access to over 275 million verified Reputation Profiles that can include criminal and civil court records, sex offender status, someone’s financial details, marriage status, number of children, work histories, links to social profiles, photos, public Reputation Scores, profiles could even include personal reviews written by people who’ve worked with or dated the person being looked up. This stuff is vital when it comes to determining if someone is who they say they are, and that’s how you stay safe, by knowing the truth, by having accurate information that helps you assess risk.
- You are based here in LA… why was it important for you to even create this technology?
The problems we solve are not unique to Los Angeles. Sure, our technology was created and perfected here in Los Angeles, which just happens to be my hometown; it rivals technology created in any tech hub. It was important for me to develop our technology because it lets us solve a serious problem – helping to keep people safe on the Internet, specifically on dating apps.
- What LA-based statistics can you share with us? Are more people dating online now than ever before?
We recently conducted a Dating Industry Insider Survey and learned that over half of dating executives said user safety and security is their top priority for 2021. Although these statistics are not specific to Los Angeles, it’s important to note that there is a shift in safety and security on apps within the dating industry. With more than 50% of dating profiles being fake, it’s exciting to see the shift in priorities, which is why we developed our solution – to help people be safer with those they engage with online. For your second question, in 2020 there were 44.2 million people using online dating apps and in 2021, that number has grown to 49 million. It’s estimated that by 2025, that number will be up to 53.3 million people.
- What trends going forward here in LA and the rest of the country do you foresee when it comes to online/app safety for people?
We’ve done some research and seen that 75% of U.S. adults believe it is important to look up the people we interact with online. When it comes specifically to dating apps, 98% of U.S. adults dating online want a reputation platform that pulls together background information. Those two stats will drive more and more dating apps to partner with us, which, in turn, will make it safer for people to be online.
- What advice would you give to people who are using apps that DO NOT use RealMe yet?
They should contact those apps and ask what safety protocols they have in place and mention RealMe. We are already on several dating apps and platforms including White Label Dating, Dig, Tabby, Mingle2 and Bristlr. These apps have a vested interest in doing what’s necessary to keep their users safe. And, we’re proud to call them our partners.
- What is your ultimate goal/dream for RealMe?
My goal for RealMe is for it to help everyone stay safe. I’d love to see a RealMe app come already installed on iPhones and other smartphones. I’d also love to see schools teach what I call “safety literacy,” meaning how kids can protect themselves and stay safe. We tell our kids not to talk to strangers; we need to talk more about online safety, and RealMe should be part of that conversation, and it should start at a young age. There’s also another side to RealMe. People can control their Reputation Profile and make sure it’s correctly representing them and showing how amazing they are. Most people are good and need the chance to show that. Of course, for RealMe to do that, apps and other platforms need to partner with us. RealMe is here to help. If I seem to use the word “help” a lot, it’s not an accident.
- What would you like to see happen next with your technology in the short term here in town?
I’d like to see RealMe become ubiquitous on every computer, smartphone, and tablet here in LA. That might not be short-term, but medium-term. Trends tend to start in urban areas, at least, technology trends. Think of RealMe as a rocket. We’ve had takeoff. The booster engines are about to ignite.