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Singles Using GPS Apps To Meet New People

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Romance novels teach that love may be lurking just around the corner. And these days, many singles are using cell phone apps to make sure they don't miss it.

A long list of new apps use global positioning systems (GPS) to connect you with the people closest to you -- literally. To help, the app not only lists those geographically closest to you, but also displays their picture. One person described it as a "buffet of people."

The apps show people close enough to track down. That means can just drop in on them unannounced. Chance Bass uses SCRUFF - an app for gay men – on a regular basis. SCRUFF was the first community to embrace GPS dating and socializing.

As the apps become more popular they're finding new niche markets. There are now GPS apps geared specifically for Christians, Jews, young people, married people, and even senior citizens.

Steven Lindsey, with Gay List Daily, said people are very specific about their likes. He said they have an attitude like, "Cutting to the chase. I already know I'm looking for a 60-year-old woman, that's Jewish and 'oh, she's right here.'" Lindsey went on to say that users often narrow it, "…down to race. You can get down to religion. You can get down to specific body types."

But when a CBS 11 News crew hit the street to see who would use the app… they found most men curious. "I think anything that speeds up the process, separates the wheat from the chaff, I think it's good," North Texan Peter Dillon said. But women were much more hesitant. One woman said, "I wouldn't use it." Another said fearfully, "No. There are a lot of creeps out there."

With new technology, though, come new risks. Internet safety expert Mitch Butler warned that while app can give details about themselves…that doesn't mean they're true. When asked if there is a checks and balances system in place Butler said, "No," and from a security standpoint said the apps, "…very well could be a stalker's tool."

Police across the country have linked the rapes of three teenagers to men posing as kids on the GPS app Skout. The company responded by shutting down its forum for 13- to 17-year-olds. It later re-opened the section but removed the GPS feature and added an age verification process.

In a statement, the company said -

"Recent events convinced us that we needed to improve our safety measures and re-evaluate the features in our teen community to make sure that those friendships could spark and grow safely."

The apps do allow users to limit what information goes out -- including exactly how far away you are.

Lindsey also suggests that users exercise caution, while being enthusiastic, when meeting another user in person. "It kind of is replacing just going to meet someone at a bar…but it doesn't necessarily have to be a negative thing. I know there have been people who have met and gotten married through apps like this."

So, while love may be age old, nowadays there seem to be more new ways to find it.

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