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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.

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.

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.

A great diversity of online dating services currently exists.

Some have a broad membership base of diverse users looking for many different types of relationships.

Since advertising revenues are modest compared to membership fees, this model requires a large number of page views to achieve profitability.

Such companies offer a wide variety of unmoderated matchmaking services, most of which are profile-based.

Online dating services allow users to become "members" by creating a profile and uploading personal information including (but not limited to) age, gender, sexual orientation, location, and appearance.

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.

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