You may or may not be familiar with the story in the papers last month involving a girl, the dating app Tinder, and former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
If this isn’t ringing any bells let me catch you up. A WhatsApp audio message was shared by a young woman telling the story of her friend who was chatting to a man on Tinder and agreed to go on a date with him to a restaurant. Before their meeting, he confessed to her that he was a public figure and therefore had been using photos of someone else to hide his identity. The woman went ahead on the date only to allegedly come face-to-face with Bertie Ahern.
Ahern’s spokesperson has since said that the allegation is false and it’s “unfair that anyone would be subjected to this in any walk of life,” according to JOE. However, this does raise the question of how easy is it to pretend to be someone else online?
The way technology is advancing is making it easier for people to pose as others online. With new ways to recreate voices and faces, it means that it’s becoming harder to trust that the people we talk to online are really who they say they are.
If you are a fan of YouTuber Shane Dawson you most likely will have seen his most recent two-part series Conspiracy Theories with Shane Dawson. Across the two videos, Dawson investigates two methods through which a person can take on a false identity.
The first video dealt with software which allowed a user to mask the face of someone else over their own. The second video showcased software which allowed a user to manipulate another person’s voice into saying any sentence they typed out. Combining these two together leads to a very worrying situation where we could even be video chatting with someone we met online and not even know what they truly look or sound like.
It isn’t a new thing though for people to not know much about their date before meeting in person. Before instant messaging was invented people would go on ‘blind dates’ with the hopes of finding out whether they clicked with the person or not by the end of the date.
Nowadays though it is easy to get to know someone simply by looking through their social media. Dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble encourage users to tell others more about themselves through short biographies. The apps facilitate initial conversation through messaging back and forth and allow users to get the chance to know each other better before meeting in person.
However, dating apps have also become part of a hook-up culture with just over one-fifth of US college students using Tinder to find a hook-up compared to less than five per cent looking for a relationship, according to a study carried out between 2015 and 2017 through the polling website Whatsgoodly.
However, to say that romance has well and truly died would be an over-exaggeration. It still very much exists and is thriving in the physical world but it won’t be found online. If you are looking for love it may be time to find it the old-fashioned way and put yourself out there in the real world rather than online.