From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mail-order bride is a label applied to a woman who publishes her intent to marry someone from another — usually more financially developed — country. This label is considered offensive by some definitions.
Historically, mail-order brides were women who listed themselves in catalogs and were selected by men for marriage. Sometimes the men and women involved were citizens of different countries, e.g. women from European countries moving to the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries, and sometimes they involved citizens of the same country.
Mail-order brides traditionally hail from developing countries. The great majority of these women are from Southeast Asia including the Philippines, countries of the former Soviet Union, and to a lesser extent from Latin America. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, large numbers of eastern European women advertised themselves in such a way; primarily being from Russia, Romania, Ukraine and Moldova. Even developed nations like Japan, Canada, and Sweden have large amounts of outgoing mail order brides. In the past, international marriage agencies such as Cherry Blossoms allowed women to sign up to be listed in picture magazines; now the Internet has largely supplanted this method. Men who list themselves in such publications may be referred to as mail-order husbands. Nations that often receive mail-order brides are the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Germany, and Australia.
 Divorce rate
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reports that "...marriages arranged through these services would appear to have a lower divorce rate than the nation as a whole, fully 80 percent of these marriages having lasted over the years for which reports are available."  The USCIS also reports that "... mail-order bride and e-mail correspondence services result in 4,000 to 6,000 marriages between U.S. men and foreign brides each year."
The statistical office of Switzerland has published some more detailed statistics
: Note that to draw any conclusions, the divorce rate of mail-order marriages must be compared to the divorce rate of domestic marriages. In 1999, the divorce rate for domestic marriages (Swiss married to Swiss) in Switzerland were at a record high of 50%. In the same year (1999), marriages with foreigners are comparatively better: Marriages between Swiss and German or Italian women have a comparatively better divorce rate: 40%. Marriages between Brazilian or Thai women and Swiss turned out to be more durable than expected, the divorce rate reached the low rate of 30%. Fantastically low divorce rates were reached at marriages with women from Colombia (20%). Marriages with women from the former USSR reached a rate of 15%; however, it must be noted that marriages between Swiss and Russians boom at the moment, and that the divorce rate is not that much meaningful, because the divorce rate rises with a time-lag. However, there are also marriages between Swiss and foreigners where the divorce rate is worse than the domestic rate: Marriages between Swiss and women from the Dominican Republic tend to work very badly, the divorce rate reached catastrophic sixty percent. Similarly, but not quite as bad, the divorce rate in marriages between Swiss and Philippine women reached 45%.
It can thus be concluded that the chance of survival of marriages to mail-order-brides does depend heavily on the bride's country of origin. Also, income and age difference play an important role. It could be statistically shown that the probability of a divorce declines 20% if the husband earned an income of more than 50,000 USD per year, and that the probability of a divorce increases if the age difference between groom and bride exceeds 15 years.
 Immigration issues by country
Canadian immigration laws have traditionally been similar to but slightly less restrictive than their US counterparts; for instance, Canadian law does not require the Canadian citizen to prove minimum income requirements as are required by the United States immigration laws.
Until recently (2001) Canada's immigration policy designated mail-order brides under the "family class" to refer to spouses and dependents and "fiancé(e)" class for those intending to marry, with only limited recognition of externally married opposite-sex "common law" relationships; same-sex partners were processed as independent immigrants or under a discretionary provision for "humane and compassionate" considerations.
In 2002, the Canadian Immigration Law was completely revised. One of the major changes was conjugal partner sponsorship, available for any two people (including same sex couples) who have had conjugal relations together for at least one year. Currently, Canadian immigration authorities frown upon conjugal partners sponsorship in the case of heterosexual couples and now require the couples to marry before a visa is granted unless serious reason can be demonstrated why the couple is not yet married.
In Taiwan, mail-order brides are sourced primarily from Mainland China and Southeast Asia, especially Vietnam. The common age range for Vietnam women range from 20 to 28 years of age. On average, Taiwanese men spend USD $10,000 on this type of marriage; however, only USD $500 to USD $1,000 US dollars will be received by the bride's family and the remainder absolved by marriage brokers of the groom and the bride.
Brides from Mainland China are known colloquially as dalu mei (???, pinyin: dàlù mèi, literally: little sister from the mainland). The marriages and immigration are arranged by licensed marriage brokers. Spousal immigration is the only legal form of immigration from Mainland China to Taiwan. Although from Mainland China, dalu mei are not normally perceived as members of the Mainlander minority of Taiwan. There are also mail-order grooms from Mainland China to emigrate to Taiwan, although this is much less common. Pro-Taiwan independence parties such as the Taiwan Solidarity Union have expressed concerns that brides from Mainland China and their children will adversely influence Taiwan’s political landscape as they acquire citizenship. However, these attitudes are not universal even among pro-independence supporters, and former President Chen Shuibian of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party made a particular point of welcoming these brides during his campaign activities in 2004. A local poll suggested that Mainland Chinese brides tend to vote for the same political party as their husbands.
Many commentators have noted the emigration of foreign brides from Mainland China and Southeast Asia is already changing the ethnic composition of Taiwan, namely, mail-order brides and their children already outnumber Taiwanese aborigines. Some now consider foreign brides to be Taiwan’s fledging fifth ethnic group and are interested in observing how Taiwan’s demographics will gradually change by this group. In recent years, there has been a proliferation of Vietnamese stores and restaurants in Taiwan operated by Vietnamese brides. The Taiwanese Ministry of the Interior has published domestic violence-prevention materials in Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Thai, as well as a general guide to life in Taiwan in Khmer.
for statistics references.
 Other Asia
South Korea and Japan also have accepted a large number of foreign brides. In the case of South Korea, many of the brides are Vietnamese, Mainland Chinese, or ethnic Koreans from China. Japan accepts many brides from China, the Philippines, and Thailand. They have become common in recent years especially among rural bachelors who cannot find suitable wives in their small towns. South Korea notably a gender imbalance, with an excess of available bachelors relative to single women. The implications for the ethnic composition of South Korea and Japan are similar to those for Taiwan, albeit less severe due to their higher populations.
Mainland China has become a destination for internal mail-order brides, due to gender imbalances. These tend to come from poorer parts of China, North Korea, or Burma, which are considerably poorer per capita than China as a whole. Trafficking and criminal gangs are prominently involved in the mail-order "business".
India has considerable mail-order bride activity, mainly within the country but also drawing women from Bangladesh and Nepal where the per capita income is less than India as a whole. This phenomenon is projected to become much more acute in both China and India over the coming decades due to an unnaturally high number of males born as a consequence of sex selection via widespread availability of cheap ultrasound pre-natal screening, will mature and seek wives. Most estimate the number of the unnaturally high male population, and lifetime bachelors probably will exceed tens of millions.
 United States
The United States issues a K-1 "fiancée" visa that can be used within six months of issue and is valid for a 90-day entry into the U.S. The K-1 (and K-2 for accompanying minor children) is classified as a "non-immigrant" visa, though all the immigrant visa checks (i.e., FBI check and medical exam) are required for this visa. While this visa is issued as a single entry visa, should the intending spouse return to her country within the 90 days and seek to return again to the U.S. for the purpose of marriage the Embassy may issue a second visa document. The USCIS reports that approximately 17,263 such visas were issued in fiscal 2001, about 7988 coming from Asia and about 4714 coming from Europe (including all of the former Soviet Union states). It should be noted though, that the K-1 visa is used by Americans who met partners overseas, and perhaps most commonly, by recent immigrants to the US. "Mail-order" style engagements account for a tiny fraction of all K-1 visas. This type of visa application specifies the applicant's fiancé. If the visa holder does not marry the specified fiancé within the validity of the visa, she is required to return to her country of origin. However, if she marries her fiancé, she and her husband can apply to obtain "green card" permanent resident status with her husband (and possible co-sponsors) promising to support her for ten years or until she obtains citizenship. This residence status is conditional for a period of two years, after which the couple is expected to apply to have the condition removed. Removal requires the couple prove that they are married to each other in good faith. If the couples have divorced, the immigrant can apply for a waiver to remove the condition. In all cases supporting evidence is reviewed by the USCIS, often consisting of wedding and vacation photos, love letters, birth certificates of children, and evidence of mutual financial trust such as joint bank account statements, leases signed by both spouses, bills, insurance policies and other documentation demonstrating a genuine marital relationship. If evidence is found to be suspect further investigation by the USCIS may be required. This process is intended to prevent would-be immigrants from abandoning their sponsors immediately after obtaining residency and fraudulent marriages solely for the purpose of immigration. There are exceptions. For example, a woman who is determined to have been a battered wife can self-petition under VAWA provisions. Exemptions are also granted if a woman shows that the marriage was bona fide and her spouse died.
The parties can also marry before the fiancée enters the United States in which case the spouse must retain her residence outside the United States and her U.S. citizen spouse (or permanent resident alien) can apply for a permanent residence visa for her, in which case the visa is processed at the consulate and she is issued a "green card" valid from her date of entry into the United States, though she may also be subject to the two year condition as stated above if the date of entry is less than two years after her marriage date. A K-3 non-immigrant visa can be issued to the overseas spouse to reunite her with her husband while the permanent residency visa (green card) is being processed. The average wait for a K-3 visa (12 months to 2 years), is usually a little longer than the wait for a K-1 visa (8 to 12 months).
 Comparison with other matchmaking forms
 Classified and online matchmaking services
Classified listings were a common matchmaking practice for many years. With the advent of the internet, online matchmaking websites have proliferated and largely replaced traditional paper-based classifieds. Thus, online matchmaking is only an updated form of the American mail-order bride tradition, with the sole difference being the method used for broadcasting the personal ad.
 Arranged marriage
An arranged marriage is one in which the marital partners are chosen by others, usually parents, based on considerations other than the pre-existing mutual attraction of the partners. Note that this is not the same thing as a forced marriage.
 Legal issues
Marriage agencies and mail-order bride publications are legal in almost all countries. Certain notable legal issues are:
On June 4, 2001 Turkmenistan President Saparmurat Niyazov, also known as Turkmenbashi, authorized a decree that required foreigners to pay a $5,000 fee to marry a Turkmen citizen, regardless of how they met, and to live in the country for one year and own property for one year. Authorities indicated that the law was designed to protect women from being duped into abusive relationships.
In June 2005, President Niyazov scrapped the $5,000 requirement and the property-owning requirement. 
The Philippines prohibits the business of organizing or facilitating marriages between Filipinas and foreign men. The Philippine congress enacted Republic Act 6955 or the Anti-Mail-Order Bride Law in 1990 as a result of stories that appeared in the local press and media about Filipinas being abused by their foreign husbands. Because of this, Filipinas often use "reverse publications" – publications in which men advertise themselves – to contact foreign men for marriage on behalf of the Filipina women.
In 2005, President Alexander Lukashenko attempted to regulate "marriage agencies" in Belarus and make it difficult for them to operate. He believed that western men were draining his country of all the women of child-bearing age. However, as most agencies are being run from outside Belarus (either in Russia, European countries or in the United States), he has been unable to stop or otherwise regulate this activity.
Since 2003 Australian Federal Government's resolve to decrease what was deemed 'inappropriate immigration' by then-Prime Minister John Howard has gained momentum. Initial reactions to the program were mixed. However, during the January 2004 visit to Eastern Europe by Australian Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, Australian-Russian relationships were strengthened while both nations committed to a timetable for reductions in Russian human trafficking into Australia. The Australian public further embraced their government's new policies following the media frenzy of the Jana Klintoukh case. This case first exploded into the public's view when current events program, Today Tonight, aired footage of a young Russian-born Australian, claiming she was imported via an Internet site and was used as a sexual slave by her 'husband' while being confined to his Sydney home.
 United States
On January 6, 2006, President George W. Bush signed the "International Marriage Broker Regulation Act of 2005" (IMBRA) as part of the H.R. 3402: Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005. The requirements of the law are controversial, and some commentators have claimed that it presumes that American men are abusers.
The law requires that before a foreign woman's address or other contact information may be sold to a US citizen or resident by an international marriage broker:
- The man must complete a questionnaire on his criminal and marital background.
- The man must be screened from all mental illnesses and/or disorders.
- The seller must obtain the man's record from the National Sex Offenders Public Registry database.
- The questionnaire and record must be translated to the woman's native language and provided to her.
- The woman must certify, for each specific individual, that she agrees to permit communication.
In enacting IMBRA, the Congress of the United States was responding to claims by the Tahirih Justice Center (TJC), a woman's advocacy group, that mail order brides were vulnerable to domestic abuse because they are unfamiliar with the laws, language and customs of their new home. The TJC insisted that special legislation was needed to protect them. The TJC asked the United States Congress to consider several notable cases mentioned in the Congressional Record. Critics of IMBRA claim that the TJC failed to ask Congress to consider the relative amount of abuse between mail order bride couples and regular couples, including the thousands of spousal murders that occurred inside the USA over the past 15 years.
Two federal lawsuits (European Connections & Tours v. Gonzales, N.D. Ga. 2006; AODA v. Gonzales, S.D. Ohio 2006) sought to challenge IMBRA as unconstitutional. The AODA case was terminated when the plaintiffs withdrew their claim. The European Connections case ended when the judge ruled against the plaintiff and found that the law was Constitutional with regards to a dating company.
On March 26, 2007, U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper dismissed, with prejudice, the suit for injunctive relief filed by European Connections, agreeing with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and TJC that IMBRA is a constitutional exercise of Congressional authority to regulate for-profit dating websites and agencies where the primary focus is on introducing Americans to foreigners. Additionally, the federal court specifically found that: "the rates of domestic violence against immigrant women are much higher than those of the U.S. population." The judge also compared background checks on American men to background checks on handgun buyers by stating, "However, just as the requirement to provide background information as a prerequisite to purchasing a firearm has not put gun manufacturers out of business, there is no reason to believe that IMBs will be driven by the marketplace by IMBRA."
 Mail-order bride murders in the US
There are four incidents of mail-order brides being killed in the US over the past decade.
- In September 2003, 26-year-old Ukrainian engineer and mail-order bride Alla Barney bled to death on the floor of her car after her American husband Lester Barney, 58, slashed her throat in front of the couple’s four-year-old son, Daniel. Lester fled with Daniel from the scene in the parking lot of the boy’s daycare center, but after an Amber Alert was triggered, he turned Daniel over to a friend and was himself taken into custody by police. Alla had been granted a restraining order against Lester a few months before and had been given temporary custody of Daniel. 
- Susanna Blackwell met her husband through an international marriage broker called Asian Encounters and left the Philippines to settle with him in Washington state in 1994. The husband, Timothy Blackwell, physically abused Susanna, including one incident in which he choked her the day after their wedding. Susanna reported the abuse to the police and obtained a protection order against him. While awaiting divorce/annulment proceedings in a Seattle courtroom many months later, Susanna and two of her friends were shot dead. Blackwell was convicted of murdering all three women.
- Anastasia King, a young woman from Kyrgyzstan, was found strangled and buried in a shallow grave in Washington state in December 2000. At the age of 18, Anastasia had received an email from a 38-year-old Seattle man, Indle King, from a mail order bride website. He flew to her country and they were married soon after. Two years later, after considerable strife, Indle wanted another bride. He was allegedly unwilling to pay for a divorce so he ordered a tenant in their Washington home to kill Anastasia. Weighing nearly 300 pounds, her husband pinned Anastasia down while the tenant strangled her with a necktie. Both were convicted of murder. King’s previous wife, whom he had also met through an IMB, had a domestic violence protection order issued against him and left him because he was abusive.
- Nina Reiser was a Russian-born and trained obstetrician and gynecologist. She was murdered by her husband, Hans Reiser, a businessman and computer programmer. She had a restraining order against him during their divorce. She had been reported missing on September 5, 2006. In the same month, Hans was detained by Oakland police due to the suspicions surrounding the disappearance of his wife. He was later arrested for suspected murder. On April 28, 2008 Hans Reiser was found guilty of first degree murder, and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. On July 7, 2008, Hans led Oakland police to his wife's remains with an agreement to only be charged for second-degree murder instead. 
 Murder by mail-order bride in the US
- In 2002, Tessie Buhawe Spotts, a native of the Philippines,, was charged with the slow poisoning murder of her husband, Alfred Spotts, in Newberry, South Carolina. The couple met through an international magazine advertisement.
 Lawsuits in the US involving Mail-order Brides
- On November 18, 2004, a federal jury in Baltimore, Maryland awarded Ukrainian mail-order bride Nataliya Fox $433,500 ($341,000 of which were punitive damages) against international marriage broker Encounters International and its Russian immigrant owner, Natasha Spivack. Spivack arranged Nataliya's marriage to an American man with a history of violently abusing women and who, after being matched with Nataliya, abused her over the course of their marriage. The jury found the marriage broker guilty of fraud, unfair and deceptive trade practices, willful and wanton negligence, unauthorized appropriation of Ms. Fox's name and likeness, and defamation. The jury found the mail order bride company (Natasha Spivak) liable for failing to tell Nataliya about a federal law that allows foreign nationals to escape abusive marriages without fear of automatic deportation, and for actively misleading her about her legal options. The jury also found EI (Natasha Spivak) liable for misrepresenting that it screened male clients when it did not; and publicizing Nataliya’s marriage to Mr. Fox as an EI “success” story, without her permission, even after she fled to a domestic violence shelter.   On April 14, 2006 a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the jury's verdict in full, noting that Spivack's conduct involved "moral turpitude."
- On March 26, 2007, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia upheld IMBRA against constitutional challenges brought by an international marriage broker, European Connections and Tours. After initially issuing an ex parte temporary restraining order against the law, the federal judge was persuaded after hearing argument, that entering the restraining order was wrong. Rather, he found that "IMBRA is highly likely to reduce domestic abuse – and may actually save lives." 
- In 2006 an ad-hoc group of dating companies sued the federal government to overturn IMBRA in the Southern District of Ohio. After a period of litigation, the plaintiff group withdraw their lawsuit prior to trial.
 References in popular culture
- English rock band Status Quo satirize the concept of mail-order brides in the song "The Oriental" on their 2002 album Heavy Traffic.
- On the show Aqua Teen Hunger Force in the episode "Mail Order Bride", Carl and Shake plan to marry a mail order bride from Chechnya.
- A Foreign Affair, a 2003 film starring Tim Blake Nelson and David Arquette. After the death of their mother, two brothers hatch a scheme to bring home a traditionally minded Russian bride to help with housework by taking a romance tour to Russia.
- In an episode of Beavis and Butt-head entitled "Bride of Butt-Head," the two fantasize about sending for mail order brides.
- In the 2001 film, Birthday Girl, Nicole Kidman plays a Russian mail-order bride who produces chaos upon her arrival.
- In the Australian movie Fat Pizza, Bobo the boss of the store orders a mail order bride off the internet from Vietnam.
- Ting Tong Macadangdang of the British comedy comedy sketch show Little Britain is a transsexual Thai bride.
- Ping of the British show Teachers.
- Orchid Pattaya who claimed to be a Thai bride was discovered to be a local shop worker on Coronation Street.
- The book "Sarah, Plain and Tall" is a children's novel describing a widowed farmer who advertises for a bride.
- There was a series of Dilbert comic strips where Wally orders a mail order bride from Elbonia.
- The 2004 movie Mail Order Wife follows the filming of a documentary about a man who orders a Chinese mail-order bride.
- In the 2003 movie Bad Santa, Lois (Lauren Tom), is the wife of Marcus (Tony Cox) but Marcus' friend Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) mentions that she was a mail-order wife.
- In the comedy sketch show popular in the United Kingdom called Little Britain, there is a character called Ting-Tong who is a mail-order bride.
 See also
 External links
 United States
Online dating service
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Online dating or Internet dating is a dating system which allows individuals, couples and groups to make contact and communicate with each other over the Internet, usually with the objective of developing a personal romantic or sexual relationship. Online dating services usually provide unmoderated matchmaking over the Internet, through the use of personal computers or cell phones.
Online dating services generally require a prospective member to provide personal information, before they can search the service provider's database for other individuals using criteria they set, such as age range, gender and location. Most sites allow members to upload photos of themselves and browse the photos of others. Sites may offer additional services, such as webcasts, online chat, telephone chat (VOIP), and message boards. Some sites provide free registration, but may offer services which require a monthly fee. Other sites depend on advertising for their revenue.
Many sites are broad-based, with members coming from a variety of backgrounds looking for different types of relationships. Other sites are more specific, based on the type of members, interests, location, or relationship desired.
United States residents spent $469.5 millionpaid content” on the web other than pornography, according to a study conducted by the Online Publishers Association (OPA) and comScore Networks.
on online dating and personals in 2004, and over $500 million in 2005, the largest segment of “
At the end of November 2004, there were 844 lifestyle and dating sites, a 38 percent increase since the start of the year, according to Hitwise Inc. However, market share was increasingly being dominated by several large commercial services, including AOL Personals, Yahoo! Personals, Match.com, and eHarmony. By 2007, many prominent studies show that Baby Boomer interest in online dating had soared. 
In 2002, a Wired magazine article forecast that, "Twenty years from now, the idea that someone looking for love without looking for it online will be silly, akin to skipping the card catalog to instead wander the stacks because 'the right books are found only by accident.' Serendipity is the hallmark of inefficient markets, and the marketplace of love, like it or not, is becoming more efficient."
Most recently, it has become common for online dating websites to provide webcam chats between members. In addition, as the online dating population becomes larger, sites with specific demographics are becoming more popular as a way to narrow the pool of potential matches. According to online personals expert Mark Brooks from onlinepersonalswatch.com, online dating sites are adding features including handwriting analysis to match like-minded mates.
The most successful niche sites pair people by race, sexual orientation or religion. The 20 most popular dating sites this year as ranked by Hitwise include JDate (for Jewish singles), Christian Mingle,Christian Cafe and JCMATCH, Manhunt (for gay men), Love From India, Black Christian People Meet, Amigos (for Latino singles), Asian People Meet, and Shaadi (for Indian singles).  In March 2008, the top 5 overall sites held 7% less market share than they did one year ago while the top sites from the top five major niche dating categories made considerable gains. 
One of the "hottest trends in online dating" is the babyboomers on the top dating sites. Around 30% of America's 80 million babyboomers are single.
Since 2003, several free dating sites, operating on ad based-revenue rather than monthly subscriptions, have appeared and become increasingly popular.
Especially popular in Eastern Europe, some sites offer full access to messaging and profiles, but provide additional services for pay, such as bumping profiles up to the top of the list, removing advertisements, making paying users' profiles appear several times in different places in the search results, and giving paying users a more advanced search engine to work with (in one real example, free users may only search for persons of specified age, gender, orientation, and city, while subscribers may search for any and all parameters listed in profiles, such as height, weight, interests, etc.). Also, this model generally allows users to switch between free and paying status at will and without having to do anything, simply providing advanced features for a set period of time whenever the according payment is received. Ease of payment is also generally higher, with such sites accepting a variety of online currencies, letting users charge the payment to their cellular phones, etc. Such sites earn revenue from a mix of advertising and sale of additional options.
 Virtual dating
Virtual dating combines online dating with online gaming. It is distinguished from online dating by the absence of an intention of the people to personally meet. Virtual dating involves the use of avatars for people to interact in a virtual venue that resembles a real life dating environment. For example, individuals can meet and chat in a romantic virtual cafe in Paris or on a Caribbean resort.
According to Scientific American, virtual dating is "the next step in online dating" (Feb/March 2007, p.35) .
A Time Magazine article entitled "Internet Dating 2.0" was published on January 19, 2007 citing current and upcoming technologies and explains how people can now connect in a virtual dating environment. Time describes how websites are allowing people to meet for an avatar based, graphically enabled virtual date without leaving their homes. 
Researchers at MIT and Harvard have found that "people who had had a chance to interact with each other (by computer only) on a virtual tour of a museum subsequently had more successful face-to-face meetings than people who had viewed only profiles." 
 Social networking
The role of social networking services in online dating has been explored in a book dedicated to the subject . The findings of the study reveal that the online dating services driven by subscriptions offer the least amount of social networking opportunities, as they often only utilize the personal homepage genre of online community, which only makes them effective for the bonding and encoding stage of the relationship. The dating services modeled on the free-at-the-point-of-use model scored much higher as many of them utilized the Circle of Friends social networking method and a wider number of online community genres. The highest scoring dating service was Facebook, which uses the personal homepage genre, the message board genre, the weblog and directory genre, as well as utilizing the Circle of Friends. The second highest scoring, Second Life utilizes virtual worlds, message boards, chat groups and profile pages to allow people to contact in a three-dimensional environment.
 Problems with Online Dating Services
There can be a variety of problems when utilizing online dating sites.
- Some sites expect members to subscribe "blind," meaning that users have little or no ability to search or preview the available profiles before they pay the subscription fee. eHarmony is one example of this kind of site.
- A majority of dating sites keep profiles online for months or even years since the last time the person has logged in, thereby making it seem as though there are more available members than there actually are.
- For paying members, it is often unclear whether a potential contact has a full subscription and whether he or she will be able to reply. Some sites prevent a potential contact from even reading a paying member's messages unless the contact has also paid to subscribe. There are still, however, a few established free dating sites that allow non-paid-up users to reply to messages.
- Some sites require that both the sender and recipient of messages be subscribers before any off-site communication or contact can be arranged, and will filter messages to remove email addresses, telephone numbers, web addresses and surnames. Subscribers who attempt to circumvent this restriction may lose their membership and be removed from the site.
- Some profiles may not represent actual daters, but are "bait profiles" that have been placed there by the site owners to attract new paying members. Both Yahoo Personals and Match.com have received several complaints about this tactic. Some users spam sites with "fake" profiles that are in reality advertisements to other services, such as prostitution, multi-level marketing, or other personals websites.
- Even when members' profiles are "real", there is still an inherent lack of trust with other members. Married people seeking affairs will often pose as singles. In addition, many members misrepresent themselves by telling flattering 'white lies' about their height, weight and age, or by using old and misleading photos. Members can, of course, ask for an up-to-date photograph before arranging a meeting, but disappointments are common. Matrimonials Sites are a variant of online dating sites, and these are geared towards meeting people for the purpose of getting married. Gross misrepresentation is less likely on these sites than on 'casual dating' sites. Casual dating sites are often geared more towards short term (potentially sexual) relationships.
- Online predators find online dating sites especially attractive, because such sites give them an unending supply of new targets of opportunity for Internet fraud. A recent study, led by Dr. Paige Padgett from the University of Texas Health Science Center, found that there was a false degree of safety assumed by women looking for love on the internet, exposing them to stalking, fraud, and sexual violence. Some online dating sites conduct background checks on their members in an attempt to avoid problems of this nature.
- Most members are enticed to join dating websites with free or low-priced "trial" memberships advertised on many other websites. On sites which require credit card information to join at all, these trial memberships may automatically become full memberships at the end of the trial period and charge the full monthly fee, without any additional action from the member, regardless of whether the member has actually used the services or not.
- Some members have expressed complaints about the billing practices of certain dating sites. In some cases, trial memberships that were canceled within the trial period were automatically re-billed even after canceling. To avoid these potential problems, some users have advised using a virtual credit card number which is offered by several credit card companies.
- On any given dating site, the sex ratio is commonly unbalanced. For example, eHarmony's membership is about 58% female and 42% male, whereas the ratio at Match.com is about the reverse of that. When you get into the specialty niche websites where the primary demographic is male, you typically get a very unbalanced ratio of male to female or female to male. Niche sites cater to people with special interests, such as sports fans, racing and automotive fans, medical or other professionals, people with political or religious preferences (e.g. Jewish), people with medical conditions (e.g. HIV+, obese), or those living in rural farm communities.
- Disreputable sites such as Quechup may harvest users' personal information and contacts for use in e-mail spam.
- Consolidation within the online dating industry has led to different newspapers and magazines now advertising the same website data base under different names. In the UK, for example, Time Out ('London Dating'), The Times ('Encounters'), The Daily Telegraph ('Kindred Spirits'), all offer differently named portals to the same service -- meaning that a person who subscribes through more than one publication has unwittingly paid more than once for access to just one site.
Gay rights groups have complained that certain websites that restrict their dating services to heterosexual couples are discriminating against homosexuals. This has taken place mostly among Christian dating sites, but major dating sites are generally heterosexual oriented. In addition, many sites require members to specify what sex they are looking for without having the option "both", which complicates things for bisexuals.
eHarmony was sued in 2007 by a lesbian claiming that, "Such outright discrimination is hurtful and disappointing for a business open to the public in this day and age," 
Many sites require members specify themselves as "male" or "female", complicating matters for transgender individuals.
There are sites that have been created due to this discrimination and to accommodate these types of individuals. International and non-American dating sites are often much more liberal, openly catering to all orientations, including transgendered and cross-dressing individuals.
 Government regulation
US government regulation of dating services began with the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA)  which took effect in March 2007 after a federal judge in Georgia upheld a challenge from the dating site European Connections. The law requires internationally oriented dating services to conduct, among other procedures, sex offender checks on US customers before communication can occur with a foreigner.
Only 4 percent of Singaporeans having ever used an online dating service, Internet dating is not that popular despite the country’s high rate of internet penetration. This could be attributed to the government's traditional role of matching up singles in the past decades.
New Jersey became the first state to enact a law requiring the sites to disclose whether they perform background checks.
 Online Introduction Services
As of 2008 a new variant of the online dating model has emerged in the form of introduction sites, attracting a large number of users and significant investor interest . As opposed to the traditional online dating model where members have to search and contact other members, introduction sites introduce members to other members whom they deem compatible, thus claiming to eliminate much of the mayhem of traditional online dating. Although the two introduction services operate vastly different from each other and offer different features, both claim to be more effective than traditional online personals.
Most free dating websites are dependent on advertising revenue, using tools such as Google Adsense, affiliate marketing. Since advertising revenues are modest compared to membership fees, free dating sites require a large number of page views to achieve profitability.
From a marketing standpoint, free dating sites have a lower advertising budget, and therefore rely almost entirely on word of mouth. This is something not easily attained since members of dating sites in general consider it their private matter, thus hindering free dating sites from becoming viral as compared to social networking sites.
There are some online dating services that claim to offer free registrations and search, but which are not truly free online dating service if they charge users to communicate. True free online dating services also offer free communication and generate revenue solely from advertising.
 Pop culture
- You've Got Mail, a 1998 film in which the two protagonists conduct a relationship entirely over email before meeting each other.
- Napoleon Dynamite, a 2003 film in a which one subplot involves a central character's online (and later in person) relationship.
- Euro Trip, a 2004 film in which the central character has a relationship wholly via email with a girl from Berlin
- Must Love Dogs, a 2005 film about two people trying to find love through online dating.
- Another Gay Movie, a 2006 film where a student finds his high school English teacher online.
- Because I Said So, a 2007 film in which a mother creates an online dating profile for her daughter.
- Jewtopia, a play which revolves around Jewish dating service JDate.
- Keeping Up With The Kardashians Kim And Kourtney set up Kloe on an Internet Dating Service.
 See also
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