Need help dealing with violent or distressing online content? Learn more

Quick Exit

Click here to exit quickly,
browser history won't be cleared.

Online chat

Connecting with people online can be wonderful and empowering but it is important to be aware of the risks. Whether you’re looking for a long term relationship or just to hook up, follow these tips to help protect your safety.

By understanding the risks and taking care to protect yourself, you can get the most out of being online and connected with the LGBTIQ+ community.

Tailored advice about meeting new people online is also available for young LGBTIQ+ people.


Welcome back. It's time for "Queer & A",

where I answer your burning
questions about dating online!

Let's get into it.

Goran from Melbourne writes

"I was chatting to a guy online -

it turned out to be my cousin pretending

to be someone else just to catch me out.

Now he's threatened to
out me to the family.

What should I do?"

Goran, your cousin sounds
like a real (bleep)!

So be sure to screenshot the chat.

If things turn nasty, you
might need it for evidence.

Also, report him to the app, block him,

and if anyone threatens
to share intimate images

report them to eSafety.

All right, next question.

Bill from Electric Energy asks

"Final notice or your power will..."

Ah, how did that get in there?

Moving on.

So Rach from Sydney writes
"I stupidly transferred

over $3,000 to a girl I was
chatting to online for months.

Turns out they were a catfish
and now they're back for more"

Oh Rach - catfishing.

It's actually more common than you think.

It may be tough but you
need to stop all contact,

block them, and report them
to the platform and eSafety.

Just be super careful what
info you share online.

Even if a person doesn't
seem suss, play it safe

and trust your gut.

God, I'm good at this.
Let's do another one.

Alright, this next one is from Sam

from Tassie, who writes
"My crush is ignoring me!

I text them, DM them, send pics,

even email them at work!

What am I doing wrong?"

Ooh. I hate to break
it to you Sam my dear,

but that much unwanted
contact is harassment...

it could even be bordering
on cyberstalking.

Definitely not cool.

You need to step back

and realise they're just not interested.

Wow! I could do this all day.

Alright, that's all we've got time for.

Stay amazing! And remember,
don't be a (bleep).

Play nice, stay safe.

Queer and A

Nina Oyama answers your questions about online dating and what you can do to avoid situations such as catfishing and cyberstalking.

Use a different photo

Use a different profile photo on dating or hook up apps to any you use on your public social media profiles – and make sure the backgrounds are not the same even if the shots are different. This will help to protect your privacy by limiting the information someone can find about you if they do an image search.


Check your privacy settings

Check the privacy settings on all your accounts (not just the ones you use for dating or hook ups) – limit access to your personal information and set controls on who is able to contact you. Don’t include personal details like your full name, phone number, address, credit card or banking information in your profile.


Choose if you want others to see your location

GPS settings allow others to see where you are or show your distance from another user. For many dating and hook up apps, this is a key feature of how they work. For added safety, if possible, update the settings of dating apps to hide your location from other members until you want to disclose it. 


Ask questions

Take the time to suss out someone before you get intimate online or offline – ask them lots of questions and make sure you feel comfortable and trust them before going further.

Verify their identify

Take steps to verify the identity of someone you are chatting with before you meet them. You can ask them for their Instagram or Facebook page, if they are willing to share it, so you can find out more about them and see if you have any friends in common. Not everybody likes to share other social media profiles when they are using a dating or hook up app, but it's worth asking – especially if you have been chatting for a while but you haven't seen them. You can also ask to video call with them before you meet. But remember, there's no failsafe method of checking that someone is who they say they are.


Keep the conversation on the app

Avoid taking the conversation off the app. Many apps have support functions in case you find yourself in trouble, but once you move the conversation to another platform there is very little they can do to help. If you are chatting to someone in-app and they push you to share your mobile number with them, tell them you would rather keep the conversation in the dating app or another social media platform until you feel confident that they are who they say they are.


Plan safely

Before you arrange a date or hook up, make sure you check our safety tips for meeting in the flesh.

‘My husband and I met on Grindr seven years ago.’

‘I am into arts and films and he is into sports. After chatting for a few weeks, we had our first date in his house. We clicked with each other as soon as we said hello. We always joke that if it weren’t for the dating app we would have never met – we had such a different circle of friends and hobbies.’ – Tom and Raul*


Report online abuse

Not taking ‘no’ for an answer can be a real problem. If someone is just too persistent, you may be able to use in-app functions or the settings in your web browser to mute, unfollow or block the other person and change your privacy level. If someone harasses or abuses you online, take screenshots as evidence and use the in-app functions to report their profile or messages – you can find reporting links to most apps in The eSafety Guide. If your experience meets the legal definition of adult cyber abuse and the app doesn't help, you can report the harmful content to eSafety.


Avoid image-based abuse

Remember, once you have sent an intimate image of yourself to someone, you no longer have control over it. Even if you feel you can trust someone now, that might change. It's best to:

  • send the image with your face cropped out and any tattoos obscured, so you can't be identified
  • check that your image background does not identify your location
  • check that your image doesn't have the same background as any images used in your public social media profiles.

If someone shares or threatens to share a nude or sexual image or video of you without your consent, this is called image-based abuse and it can be reported to eSafety.

Check this quick guide to image-based to find out how you can get help. You can also read LGBTIQ+ personal stories about image-based abuse from Jess, Luca and Mitch or watch Steven’s Story.



One in five Australians experience image-based abuse.

Image-based abuse is the sharing of intimate images without consent by an ex-partner or current partner.

Imagine how you would feel if you felt naked everywhere you went.

How would you feel out socially?

What if it was your partner that shared your image without consent?

If it is happening to you, you can report it.

Steven (speaks to camera):

And what if it happened to you? 

Yes, you. 

Image-based abuse is never OK.

You can report image-based abuse at

Steven's Story

This story combines the experiences and emotions of a number of individuals in this situation. Commissioned photo. Posed by model.


*The personal stories quoted here are real accounts taken from eSafety's community engagement sessions, only the names have been changed.

Get support


All ages. Counselling and referral for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and/or intersex. Phone counselling and online chat available every day from 3pm to 12am.


All ages. All issues. Phone counselling and online chat available all day, every day.

More support services

Last updated: 20/10/2023