Online Dating: More Dangerous Than Other Dating?

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Photo: Rolf Bruderer/Corbis

A Las Vegas woman has filed a lawsuit seeking $10 million from Match.com for failing to convey how dangerous online dating can be before setting her up with her attempted murderer, Wade Ridley, CBS News reports. Mary Kay Beckman had known Ridley for eight days when she broke up with him. Four months later he hid in her garage until she came home, stabbed her ten times, and stomped on her head. She had to undergo extensive surgery, including replacing part of her skull with a “synthetic component.” Ridley was later charged with killing a woman in Phoenix and committed suicide. 

Match.com says the lawsuit — based on the false sense of security provided by Match.com’s advertising — is ridiculous. Ridley didn’t have a criminal record. But there is something about the legitimacy of sites like Match.com that makes it feel safer than, say, Craigslist, and not really for any good reason. Or at least state legislatures think so. Connecticut, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, and others have passed laws requiring dating sites to post safety notices, including indicating that they do not perform background checks. Match.com began checking users against national sex offender registries in 2011 after a woman sued the site, saying she was raped by a repeat sex offender she met on the site.

Exceptional cases can serve as wake-up calls, as the Craigslist Killer did for Craigslist. In addition to the damages, Beckman wants a bigger disclaimer on Match.com's site, like a pack of cigarettes. "They don't say one in five are part of an attempted murder or one in five are killed," she told Fox5. "They don't tell you people are missing." But, depressingly, it seems like what happened to Beckman was part of the much more common phenomenon of intimate partner violence, which accounts for 22 percent of all violence against women. Ridley wasn't looking for someone to kill on Match.com; he told the cops that he wanted her to die for breaking up with him. Maybe dating in general could use some bigger safety warnings.