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Online dating (or Internet dating) is a system that enables people to find and introduce themselves to new personal connections over the Internet, usually with the goal of developing personal, romantic, or sexual relationships.
An online dating service is a company that provides specific mechanisms (generally websites or applications) for online dating through the use of Internet-connected personal computers or mobile devices.
However, Sam Yagan describes dating sites as ideal advertising platforms because of the wealth of demographic data made available by users.
There are mixed opinions regarding the safety of online dating.
Under this metaphor, members of a given service can both "shop" for potential relationship partners and "sell" themselves in hopes of finding a successful match.Most services also encourage members to add photos or videos to their profile.Once a profile has been created, members can view the profiles of other members of the service, using the visible profile information to decide whether or not to initiate contact.Over 50% of research participants in a 2011 study did not view online dating as a dangerous activity, whereas 43% thought that online dating involved risk.Because online dating takes place in virtual space, it is possible for profile information to be misrepresented or falsified.
Most free dating websites depend on advertising revenue, using tools such as Google Ad Sense and affiliate marketing.