5 Cautionary Documentaries About Online Love Gone Wrong

Practically everyone wants to find love. This inherent desire for companionship has spawned numerous companies geared towards matching singles online. Whether it’s using Match, Tinder, Bumble, Plenty of Fish, or OKCupid, people have accepted the fact that in this busy, multitasking world, you often have to resort to online technology to meet a real-life love. In fact, according to Statista, there were 44.2 million online dating service users in 2020, and there will be an estimated 53.3 million in 2025.

But, with every innovation comes risks and setbacks. Not everything online is what it appears. Technology allows people to completely invent new lives for themselves, which means lies for those who meet them. The person you think you’re dating online can be a murderer, rapist, cheater, and scammer, and you may not even know it until it’s too late. We want you to stay informed and protected, so we are sharing five cautionary documentaries that show us what happens when the pursuit of online love goes wrong.

The Tinder Swindler

Tinder is the most downloaded dating app out there. Users no doubt like the idea of finding prospective love matches right in their own vicinity, but you never know exactly who you’re attracting. Premiering on February 2 on Netflix, The Tinder Swindler tells the tale of a shady man who used the app to pose as a billionaire, and in the process, robbed vulnerable women of millions of dollars. But they aren’t going down without a fight.

Watch on Netflix

Dating App Horrors: The Untold Story

Sure, we can control whether we want to meet someone online or not, but we can’t predict what will happen after that. Dating App Horrors: The Untold Story, hosted by Elizabeth Vargas, takes a look at the risks involved with online dating, as well as how the dating app industry is “largely unregulated.”

Watch on Hulu

Catfish

Unfortunately, there are enough online dating disasters and frauds to create an entire television series. The reality show Catfish, which follows deceived online daters whose love interests lied about their true identity, has enough content to have lasted eight seasons. But in 2010, before the world learned about reverse searching a beau’s dating profile pics, we had Catfish the movie.

Watch on WatchDocumentaries.com

Love Fraud

You’ve met the love of your life. You’re in bliss. That is, until you lose both that love, and all of your money. That’s exactly what happened to the victims of Richard Scott Smith, a professional scammer who we learn about in the doc Love Fraud. These victims, however, decided to band together and hire a bounty hunter to get justice.

Watch on Showtime

Swiped: Hooking Up in the Digital Age

There’s a lot more to dating apps than swiping left or right. Objectification, racism, sexual harassment, revenge porn, and other negative aspects plague the online dating world. The 2018 documentary Swiped looks beyond the convenience of apps, taking an in-depth look at how tech is completely changing the pursuit of love. Read our past article on Swiped!

Watch on HBO

V. Alexandra de F. Szoenyi is a writer at BoldLatina, Refinery29, LatinaMedia.co, and Mission Local. Her work focuses primarily on fashion, beauty, and Latinx culture. She has also written on San Francisco for a number of publications including the San Francisco Examiner, Bob Cut Mag, 7x7, and The Bold Italic. Alex recently co-founded the Latina Writers community.