Social networks and online dating
There's been much talk lately of how social networks such as myspace and
Facebook will diminish the use of online dating sites. Most of it is total
hooey. There are fundamental differences between social networking and online
dating, centering around trust between members, and personal safety and privacy.
myspace and it's wannabees sit firmly at the very low trust end - fake
profiles, huge membership, anyone can join, and sites that are invite only and
have stringent vetting policies at the high-trust end. Other sites take fake
profiles more seriously, and of course myspace have instigated many measures to
improve their levels of trust. But ultimately it is a free-for-all.
Facebook is of course seen as a "challenger" to online dating, but so far our
experience has been that social networks such as Facebook are seen in the public
mind as separate spaces, apart from online dating. Key difference is that with
Facebook etc, you are represented online with your real name. With online
dating, we have nicknames and anonymous messaging. The reason is because with
Facebook we are getting to know people as friends, and mainly keeping up with
existing relationships. It's not a space in which many people meet brand new
people. With online dating we are looking for complete strangers to form
relationships with. That requires a different approach to how much real
information about you to publish online.
Although many of our members are on Facebook, we don't think many of them are
using it for dating. As a closed-off space in which only those who are invited
can peek into your personal space, it is not very suitable for online dating.
Hence while Facebook has probably increased the overall usage of online
socialising tools, it has not dramatically impacted on the usage of dedicated
online dating sites.
© Midsummer's Eve 2007