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Online dating services also differ widely in their revenue streams.
Some sites are completely free and depend on advertising for revenue.
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.
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.
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.
Members can constrain their interactions to the online space, or they can arrange a date to meet in person.
The 2016 Pew Research Center's survey reveals that the usage of online dating sites by American adults increased from 9% in 2013, to 12% in 2015.There are mixed opinions regarding the safety of online dating.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.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.Introduction sites differ from the traditional online dating model, and attracted a large number of users and significant investor interest.
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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.