Welcome to CNET's Love Syncs, where we answer your questions about online dating. I'm Erin Carson, staff reporter, resident young-enough person, refrigerdating correspondent, curator of odd stuff on the internet, most likely to leave you on "read."
This week: Rein it in, Sherlock.
Q: Is it OK to Google someone you meet online?
*Clocks out early, spends the rest of the afternoon wandering through a local apple orchard selecting the very best apples that will theoretically go in a pie but will really sit on the kitchen counter and rot.*
OK, not really. I'm contractually obligated to explain my reasoning to you. So sit down.
There are definitely folks who will say it's not fair to Google someone before you go out. They'll say everyone should have the chance to represent themselves the way they want, particularly upon meeting for the first time. I get it -- you want to explain why you keep 14 chickens free range in your apartment before your date sees it on your Instagram. IT'S BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT LINDA.
Here's the thing. Safety overrides you and your chicken situation. Doing a quick Google search to make sure the person you're talking to is the person they say they are is a must. Although this is something we try not to dwell on too much, online dating basically means meeting a stranger on the internet and then meeting them in real life. The Federal Trade Commission reported that in 2018, online romance scams cost folks $143 million. And even if someone isn't trying to get your money, they might not disclose certain crucial details on their profile like whether they're married. You know, the little things you might want to know in advance.
Scanning for red flags is in your interest and you don't have to feel guilty about tending to your own safety.
That doesn't mean you have to go seven years deep into someone's Instagram or Facebook page and memorize the names of their siblings and watch all the videos they posted to YouTube 10 years ago. It's tempting, but unnecessary, ya creeper.
I'll say something else. Researching your date so you know to bring up Kerouac, the National Curling Championships and how gorgeous Lisbon is in spring is unethical and arguably manipulative. DO YOU EVEN CURL.
Don't do it. It's weird.
Look, there are many instances in the realm of online dating where you can ask yourself how you'd feel in the other person's shoes. You'd probably be OK with someone verifying that you're not a bot, but maybe not so comfortable with them looking at your prom pictures.
So, yes, do some Googling but know when to stop scrolling.
CNET's Love Syncs is an advice column focusing on online dating. If you've got a question about finding love via app, send it to email@example.com for consideration.
Originally published Oct. 18, 5 a.m. PT.