Who can you trust?

November 26, 2005

My wife and I met online. This recent story about dating sites that might be deceiving members with fake profiles and emails is a bit depressing. It is difficult enough to find someone online and now people have to worry that the cute profile they winked at last night might be simply a marketing trick.

Seeding a service such as this with fake ads is not the most creative marketing in the universe. If you have visited some of the more risque “dating” sites (and who hasn’t visited them?) and seen the pictures of “members” used in the on-site ads you know a bit of deception is going on. This is just part of the illusion that the world online is populated with the kind of person you could never meet offline. This type of marketing appeals to the insecurity and the vanity (if I DO meet this person, perhaps they WILL find me attractive) within us all.

I mentioned at the opening that my wife and I met online. It was as good an experience for me (and hopefully for her) as I can imagine. Of course, it was almost five years ago (five years in January, specifically) that we met. Even in that short time the dynamic of all of these sites has changed considerably — everything appears far more commercial and the people seem far more jaded. I recently took a detailed stroll through some of the sites I used back then. It felt as if I had gone from Disneyland to Disney World. Interestingly, however, some of the same profiles I remember from five years ago are still there. Same pictures (don’t these people age?) as well. They must have just forgotten to update the profile or perhaps long ago met the right person and forgot to take the profile down. Then again, the profile says they visited within the last week. Maybe this deceptive marketing has been going on longer than everyone thinks.

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