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Some sites are completely free and depend on advertising for revenue.
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.
Most services offer digital messaging, while others provide additional services such as webcasts, online chat, telephone chat (VOIP), and message boards.
Members can constrain their interactions to the online space, or they can arrange a date to meet in person.
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.
A great diversity of online dating services currently exists (see Comparison of online dating services).
Some have a broad membership base of diverse users looking for many different types of relationships.
A 2005 study of data collected by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that individuals are more likely to use an online dating service if they use the Internet for a greater number of tasks, and less likely to use such a service if they are trusting of others.
It is possible that the mode of online dating resonates with some participants' conceptual orientation towards the process of finding a romantic partner.
Introduction sites differ from the traditional online dating model, and attracted a large number of users and significant investor interest.