Incidents in NO, BR raise concerns over social meet-up apps

Among the ever-evolving worlds of mobile apps and social media sites is the emergence of location-based matchmaking apps.

Apps like Tinder allow people to make instant online connections, which sometimes lead to real-life meet ups.

"I have some friends that use it. It kind of gets out of hand and it's a little weird," said UNO student Zach Leto. "It definitely puts people in awkward positions."

Loyola student Darius Smith says he stays away from "Tinder" and similar apps.

"Meeting someone, meeting up, even though it may be safe, it's just something you should not do because you don't know the real intentions of that person," he said.

However, these "connection apps" are exploding in popularity, and recent incidents in New Orleans and Baton Rouge raise concerns over safety.

Deputies in Baton Rouge arrested 22 year old Jacob Witz Saturday, after a woman accused him of raping her during an encounter set up through Tinder.

The woman told investigators she met up with him at her apartment near LSU's campus.

According to deputies, the woman said Witz became aggressive, ripped her shorts off and raped her.

Another attack raised concerns in New Orleans last week.

According to the NOPD, a man was lured to a house in the Seventh Ward through the meet up website, Tagged.

When he arrived, police say, a woman and two men carjacked him at gunpoint.

In the wake of these incidents, some college staffers urge students and others to be very cautious when using these platforms.

"Social media sites, such as Tinder or others that are out there, where they can make a connection to someone else, that they really don't even know who they're making a connection with," said Kathryn Saichuk with the LSU Student Health Center.

Ashley Nelson, a professor of social media and communications at Tulane, said young people are so immersed in the online world, that some may let their guards down at times.

"There really are no boundaries and they're so used to exposing everything about themselves on social media that they feel very free and open to go ahead and make a connection with perfect strangers on Tinder, and I think that's where some of the dangers are, and some of the pitfalls," Nelson said.

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