In today’s digital age, meeting new people online has become an everyday experience that can be a way to make new friends, business associates, and network with people who have similar interests. However, there is an unfortunate dangerous side when people trust strangers they’ve met in the virtual world since not everyone is who they say they are.
The issue goes beyond social media as the film, Sound of Freedom, brings to light. In the movie, a talent scout convinces a father that his two children could have a career in modeling and invites them to an audition that appears legitimate with a printed brochure and auditions held in a corporate business setting. However, the story turns dark when the father of the children returns to find an empty room and his two kids missing.
This sounds just like a movie plot except Sound of Freedom is based on the true story about a former DHS operative, Tim Ballard, portrayed by actor Jim Caveziel, who has made it his life mission to rescue kidnapped children sold into a nightmare no parent wants for their children.
Just like in the movie, social media users also fall victim to imposters who have created false profiles for fraudulent or deceptive purposes. Thomas Kopec and Jay Kanetkar are the Co-Founders of a revolutionary phone application, Adult Real ID, designed to keep users safe when meeting online connections.
Katetkar says, “As an FBI agent, I saw first-hand the risk that online predators pose to both children and adults. That’s why I knew I had to do something to address the threat, especially when meeting strangers face-to-face.” In fact, Kopec and Kanetkar warn that there are three dangerous mistakes people make when meeting online connections in person.
Mistake #1 – Not verifying that an online profile is a real person before meeting them. This is a concern for adults and students who may be trusting of the person especially if they’ve developed an online relationship by exchanging private messages and texts. Verifying doesn’t simply mean that the person looks like their profile photo since they can create fake profiles with their photo (or someone else’s) and facilitate deception for the purpose of exploitation.
Kanetkar says, “One of the key features of Adult Real ID requires users to verify their identity to meet with other verified users to reduce the risk of fake profiles or catfish relationships. This significantly serves as a formidable deterrent for individuals with malicious intent.”
Mistake #2 – Not meeting an online connection in a safe and public location. It’s not just enough to meet online connections in a public location, but there are other factors to keep in person meetings protected. Kopec recommends, “It’s important to share your meeting details, including the date, time, and location, with trusted family, friends, and contacts, and we made that easy to do with the app. We knew it was essential to go beyond identity verification and we have prioritized user safety during face-to-face meetings because it serves as an added layer of protection, ensuring that friends or family members are aware of the meeting arrangements and can intervene if necessary, thus preventing potential abduction attempts.”
Mistake #3 – Not having an emergency plan if caught in a dangerous situation. It’s vital to have a predetermined action plan on how to respond to critical situations that may arise during in-person meetings. According to Kopec, “The app is designed so that you use a meeting tracker to confirm the meeting has come to a safe conclusion. That means that the meeting must be closed out with a prerequisite chosen image. Users also select a pre-chosen duress image, alerting Adult Real ID‘s safety team to alert authorities if they’re in danger.”
Everyone concerned about safety when meeting strangers masquerading as ‘friends’ on the Internet needs a powerful tool that ensures their well-being. Adult Real ID sets a new standard for responsible online connections and users can get a subscription for as low as $3.00 per month. The app goes beyond identity verification by prioritizing user safety during face-to-face meetings, secure meeting arrangements, emergency assistance features, and fostering a safer digital landscape for everyone.