Dating apps have revolutionised the way that we connect with other people, and new platforms are emerging and evolving at an incredible speed - each designed to offer us a fast and simple solution to finding love in the millennial age.
Whilst some aim to make the dating space safer, waging a war against catfish and unsolicited imagery of an unsavoury nature, others leave us exposed to the darker side of internet dating.
I've tested out the top 10 most well-known dating sites and apps, to see just how safe they really are.
10. Plenty of Fish
Reportedly receiving over 65,000 registrations per day, PoF is one of the leading dating websites in the UK, but worryingly, there are no evident safety features. Users can sign up to PoF simply using a valid email address, and messages can be sent without a match, making it the perfect breeding ground for catfish and d*ck pic enthusiasts.
With over 30 million active users and one million of those logging on each day, you literally have at least a one in a million chance of finding love on OkCupid. Although there is an option to link your Instagram account to your profile, users can skirt around Facebook verification by choosing to register by email - they can also message you without a match.
Categorically one of the first websites to appear within the dating space, Match.com has helped to bring hundreds of thousands of people together since its launch over 20 years ago. Although users must have a subscription to use all features on the website, sign-up is only verified by email and users can message without a match, meaning you're still susceptible to the odd "I'm going to argue with myself because you're not responding" nutter.
Ah, Tinder. Arguable the most well-known dating app in the industry, and the chosen platform for my unsuccessful dating experiment late last year. Although there is still the chance for catfish to slip through the net, and users can use the app with only a strategic 'torso picture' to show for themselves, Tinder does require Facebook verification and users cannot message each other unless they match first.
6. Coffee Meets Bagel
Founded in 2012, Coffee Meets Bagel strives to make online dating simple and pain-free for even the busiest of singles. As with Tinder, Facebook verification is compulsory and users cannot message each other unless they match, however, there is slightly less traffic on Coffee Meets Bagel, seeing as you can only match with one person per day. That's right, you are given one 'bagel' per day, so if you're fussy when it comes to flavours, you could be waiting a long time for your breakfast - but that's another story.
Dubbed 'the relationship app,' Hinge has abolished its swiping element in favour of an 'Instagram-style' set up to help connect real people, via their real friends. The app requires compulsory Facebook, email and phone number verification, it also recently installed a feature which alerts users if their potential date is already in a relationship. This new addition led to 500 of the app's male users immediately shutting down their accounts... [Inset Kermit meme here]
In my mind, Zoosk was never a real thing, I remember joining Facebook ten years ago and seeing notifications on people's pages that they had flirted with someone on Zoosk - I thought it was a Facebook add-on, like Farm Ville, or that crap Viking game. A decade later, Zoosk has over 38 million users and is one of the safest apps on the market, with compulsory Facebook, email, phone number and photo verification. It also requires users to film a short video of themselves, which means I'm probably better off just purchasing some more cats.
Founded by Whitney Wolfe, an original co-founder of Tinder, Bumble requires both Facebook and photo verification on registration - all other photos uploaded most clearly show the users face. No d*ck pics or headless torso shots allowed. Dubbed the 'ultimate feminist app,' it's also the only one on the market where women are required to make the first move.
New social app, Huggle, aims for more authentic matches by connecting its users based on their mutual interests and the places they have in common, rather than just appearances. The app has a barrage of safety features, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and a 1-minute photo verification, where you're required to take a selfie copying one of the 100 suggested gestures, which is then compared to your profile pictures and approved by the Huggle moderators. Users can message each other without matching, but they must have a number of places in common first. Fortunately, the app doesn't tell you how many times your paths have crossed; nobody needs to know that you've been lurking behind them 48 times...
Badoo is the silent giant in the industry, with over 375 million users in over 190 countries, making it bigger than any other dating platform. Waging a war against catfish, Badoo has many of the same safety features as Huggle, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and the 1-minute photo verification process. In addition, there is a two-message limit for users who haven't actually matched on the app, as well as a 'selfie request' option for those who feel their potential date may be too good to be true. All I'm saying is, Catfish the TV Show wouldn't be a thing, if more people used Badoo...Suggest a correction