Royal Malaysia Police issues safety guidelines on Facebook Dating

Facebook's Fidji Simo speaks about the Facebook Dating app during Facebook Inc's annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

In a move that proves the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) are on top of their Internet game, an admin on the PDRM Facebook page has listed guidelines on how to stay safe while navigating the latest iteration of online dating, Facebook Dating.

The guidelines include such common sense (but worth repeating) steps as refraining from disclosing one's personal information – for instance one's full name, financial details, phone number, as well as work and home addresses – to anyone they had just met online.

PDRM also urged users to block or report individuals pushing for such details right off the bat, and to ignore requests from individuals asking for financial assistance or cash donations in order to avoid getting scammed.

Users were also encouraged to exercise caution about any individual they get in touch with via Facebook Dating, and to do a background check on anyone they planned to meet with in real life before actually doing so.

Should the user decide to go ahead and meet a potential match in real life, the guidelines recommend informing family members or friends about the meeting and to pick a public location that is suitably crowded – a big no-no is agreeing to meet in lonely or deserted areas. 

PDRM also encouraged users to listen to their instincts and to feel free to cancel the meetup if they get an uneasy feeling about their date, as heeding their intuition might just save them from a potentially unsafe situation.

Lastly, the guidelines include a good-humoured jab at users who chose shots of motorcycle parts as their profile photo. If users wants to get to know the admin behind the Royal Malaysia Police Facebook page, they may want to consider changing their Facebook Dating profile photo. (May we suggest a shot of A. Galak, popular actor from the long-running Gerak Khas TV show franchise?) 

The guidelines were recently published as a public service announcement to reminds users about the dangers of online love scams. In February 2019, The Star reported that online love scams has cost victims more than RM8mil in 2017 and RM6mil in 2018 – figures that were provided by Datuk Seri Michael Chong, the head of MCA Public Services and Complaints Department.

Facebook Dating allows users to set up a dating page which is separate from the main Facebook profile. According to The Verge, Facebook Dating is currently only available on the app for users age 18 and above.

Users have to create a profile which includes a short description of themselves and their dating preferences, after which they can include photos and browse for matches within 100km. 

The article stated that Facebook Dating will match users based on similarities like shared page likes and mutual friends. 

Facebook Dating was first launched in Sept 2018 and the feature was introduced to users in Malaysia earlier this month. Malaysia is one of 14 countries where Facebook Dating is available.

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