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Before You Text Your New Dating App Match, Disable This Feature On Your iPhone

  Illustration: Damon Dahlen/HuffPost; Photos: Getty
Illustration: Damon Dahlen/HuffPost; Photos: Getty

Giving someone your phone number before a first date can help you coordinate logistics and keep the chat flowing outside of a dating app. But it can also come with one unintended privacy consequence.

If you’re an iPhone user, your phone number is connected to your contact information, and it may automatically reveal your full name once someone adds you as their new contact. On dating apps, the default is usually first names only –– and many of us prefer to keep it that way until we decide otherwise.

Once someone knows your full name, it’s easier for them to find your exact job, your social media accounts and, in my own case, my LinkedIn profile. Before I turned off this iPhone “name-sharing” feature, I had one date who instantly found my articles after I shared my phone number. He added me as a contact on LinkedIn before we ever met in person. My potential first date had turned into a networking opportunity for him — one more reason why I prefer to stay just a “Monica” until we’ve met in person.

To turn off this feature:

  1. Go to Settings.

  2. Select Messages. From there, you can toggle off name and photo sharing entirely. You can also select your name and edit out your last name.

Or, if you keep the name-sharing feature on, you can select “Share Automatically” and choose between doing this with “Contacts Only” or with the explicit permission of “Ask Always.” If you choose the “Ask Always” option, your iPhone will prompt you before conversations, verifying that you want to share your name and photo with the other person.

More Phone Safety Tips Before First Dates 

Besides turning off the name-sharing feature, it can also be helpful to follow these additional tips for safer online dating:

1. Text a friend about where you are meeting your date and who they are.

Woman texting while walking down a city street
Jordi Salas / Getty Images

Lane Moore, a comedian and the author of “You’re Not the Only One F*cking Up: Breaking the Endless Cycle of Dating Mistakes,” told HuffPost that texting a friend about a first date is advice she’s taken herself.

“It’s always comforting to text a friend and tell them where you’ll be and who you’re meeting,” she said. “Even if it’s a great date, it’s nice to have someone else know where you are.”

Similarly, dating coach Ali Jackson said that she always sends someone a screenshot of the person’s dating app profile. “Also, my best friends have my location and also often know where we’re going,” she added.

2. Feel empowered to keep the conversation within the dating app until you’re comfortable.

Don’t feel pressure to move the conversation off the dating app.

“Someone asking for your personal phone number isn’t, in and of itself, a red flag. But it’s an opportunity for you to check in and see if you are comfortable moving the conversation off the platform,” said Erinn Robinson, the director of media relations for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an anti-sexual violence organization commonly known as RAINN.

Robinson noted that one advantage of talking on a dating platform is how it can be easier to block and end communication there compared with your personal cellphone messages.

You also don’t have to give a first date your real cellphone number. Jackson said that people might instead want to use a Google Voice number that they share with matches before a date. “That way, your actual phone number that’s tied to your identity can stay private until you decide to share it,” she said.

3. Understand that photos you share can potentially expose your location.

Man texting on a smartphone
Bitsandsplits / Getty Images

What a lot of people may not consider is that sharing “live” or “motion” photos “can pass geolocation information along with the photo,” Robinson said, “so exercise caution when sharing images with people.”

When you take photos with your phone, information like the day you took the picture and where you took it get stored automatically as metadata.

However, you can remove location data from your iPhone photos. To do this, go to the Photos app, tap the picture in question, and then select the info (or “i”) option. From there, you will see the exact location of where the photo was taken, and you can select “No Location” to remove this metadata.

On Android devices, you can only remove estimated locations on photos. You can do this going to Google Photos, tapping a picture, and selecting “More.” From there, select “Edit” and remove the estimated location.

In general, it’s important to know that safety tips are not guarantees. Robinson noted that RAINN refers to its own online dating guide as “safer tips,” since “no sexual violence ‘safety’ tip is ever a promise of safety.”

Ultimately you should let your own comfort dictate how much information you disclose upfront on a first date. Trust your gut. If someone keeps pushing for more information than what you are ready to share, that can be a sign to “block” and keep it moving.

Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.This post originally appeared on HuffPost.