What’s up, soon-to-be convicted felons? It turns out that you and I (but mostly you) are criminals, as it is apparently illegal to lie in your dating profile. A law written in…wait for it…1984 makes it a federal offense to break any website’s terms of service. Which means that any time you forget to buy an item you won on eBay, or use your friend’s Netflix streaming account without paying, or use MY Netflix streaming account without paying, you can totally be thrown in the clink. And yes, that is both shocking, and a fantastic premise for an Orange is The New Black spinoff. But how does it apply to internet dating? Well, it turns out they have terms of service agreements, just like everyone else.
Some rules that come along with internet dating are not a surprise. Like, you’re not allowed to copy and paste their entire website onto your website and pretend that it’s your own special creation. (But if you did, I’d recommend naming the site OKShmupid or Weeeeee!Harmony.) Nor are you permitted to stalk your dates, steal their private info, or use their credit card numbers to buy a jet ski. There are, however, a few stipulations that you may not be aware of, and hey, guess what: they could result in 100% genuine jail time! Like…bread and water, shanked in the shower, singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot…the whole deal.
Here are some codes of conduct that may surprise you. First, on OKCupid…
Every User Must Be An Adult, 18 Years or Older: This gets ignored constantly. I’ve had several women message me who admitted they were under 18. Makes sense, as my profile is all about hanging with my cat, watching Golden Girls reruns, and listening to Sammy Davis Jr––so I can see why the Millenials are so turned on. Also, judging by the amount of emails I’ve seen saying “I know we haven’t met, but wanna bang” and “Have XXX pics to send?,” I’m gonna argue that pretty much no one dating online is an adult, regardless of their age.
Users Info Must be Used in a Lawful and RESPONSIBLE Manner: Is it “responsible” to use the information in a woman’s profile to cyberstalk her on Facebook to find out if she only takes pictures with her dog because he’s her best friend, or because she’s blind and it’s her seeing eye dog? I’m asking for a friend.
Users Agree to Create Only One Unique Profile: I don’t even use OkCupid for dating anymore and even I have like four active profiles. And, as I’ve recently seen profiles for men dressed as horses, adorable little kitty cats, and someone who looks a lot like Barbara Bush, I have a feeling I’m not the only one messing around with some extra pages. Hope the outfit plays over big in prison, Horseman. Because that’s where you’re headed…
Your Use of the Website Shall be for Bona Fide Relationship-Seeking Purposes: Dear every guy under 35 who’s using online dating strictly to get laid, have fun in jail. Also, every woman who’s on OkCupid just to feel like they’re working on their love life even though they have no time or interest in being in a relationship, we’ll see you there too.
In Digital Interactions with Other Users, You Agree to Conduct Yourself Civilly and Respectfully: Well, now we’re all screwed. Unless “Thanks for writing me non-stop for two weeks then disappearing into thin air, you total freak show!” is a both civil and respectful in a way I don’t realize.
You Agree that You Shall Not Under any Circumstances Harass or Make Mischief Against Any Other User of the Website. I’m emailing someone I’ve never met or even seen with my own eyes in the hopes that they will let me kiss their mouths, do sex to their body, and if all goes well, get married. But most likely, just the first two. Isn’t that by definition mischievous? Let me know now, so I can start saving up my bail money.
So that’s enough for life sentences for most of us, but just in case you’re a double dipper, here’s a few of Match’s rules and regulations that could get you in trouble. Let’s start out with a biggee…
You Must Be Single or Separated From Your Spouse to Register as a Member of Match.com. Uh oh. Bad news, creepy guy in your 40’s who’s using Match to meet unsuspecting girls in their 20’s. Looks like that marriage that you’re still totally a part of is gonna result in you going to the big house. Bummer. Also, all of you “well, I’m seeing someone, but I wanted to keep my options open, so I thought I’d throw up a profile!” jerkwads. Say “Hi” to the group showers for me!
You Will Not Post or Transmit any Defamatory, Inaccurate, Abusive, Obscene, Profane, Offensive, Sexually Oriented, Threatening, Harassing, Racially Offensive, or Illegal Material. A lady friend of mine used to get a weekly email from what appeared to be a rather reserved, 50 year-old African American mailman. It said “I want to fuck you with my big black cock,” which I believe hits abusive, obscene, profane, offensive, sexually oriented, harassing, and racially offensive all in one message. In addition, judging by the picture he somehow managed to include in the email, the word “big” was more than a little inaccurate as well. Eight infractions in only ten words. Pretty impressive stuff.
Users are Prohibited From Sending Unsolicited Mass Mailings: Wait a second. There’s no way to successfully internet date without sending unsolicited mass mailings. I call entrapment!
You Will Not “Stalk” or Otherwise Harass Any Person: Crap. Does sending a second email to someone who hasn’t responded count as harrasment? If so…I’ve led you all into a life of crime. I’m sorry. Terribly, terribly sorry.