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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.
Other sites target highly specific demographics based on features like shared interests, location, religion, sexual orientation or relationship type.
Online dating services also differ widely in their revenue streams.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Such sites earn revenue from a mix of advertising and sale of additional options.