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Still others rely solely on paid membership subscriptions.
Opinions and usage of online dating services also differ widely.
Profiles created by real humans also have the potential to be problematic.
For example, online dating sites may expose more female members in particular to stalking, fraud, and sexual violence by online predators.
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.
While some sites conduct background checks on members, many do not, resulting in some uncertainty around members' identities.
For instance, some profiles may not represent real humans but rather "bait profiles" placed online by site owners to attract new paying members, or "spam profiles" created by advertisers to market services and products.
In 2008, a variation of the online dating model emerged in the form of introduction sites, where members have to search and contact other members, who introduce them to other members whom they deem compatible.At the end of November 2004, there were 844 lifestyle and dating sites, a 38% increase since the start of the year, according to Hitwise Inc.The stigma associated with online dating dropped over the years and people view online dating more positively.Such sites earn revenue from a mix of advertising and sale of additional options.
This model also allows users to switch between free and paying status at will, with sites accepting a variety of online currencies and payment options.Introduction sites differ from the traditional online dating model, and attracted a large number of users and significant investor interest.