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The Love Blog
Dating Tips: Weasels on the Web?
Of course there are. Common sense tells you that there are bound to be some snake-oil salesmen among the innocents just looking for a date online. And that is a problem. There's the guy in Atlantic City who was found guilty of wire fraud for scamming ten women around the country with fake Internet profiles. He'd tell women he met online that he needed money to move to their area, then abscond with the loot. (There's one born every minute, right?)
With the explosion in popularity of online dating sites, some legislators and lawyers have started to clamor for something to be done about fraud and resulting heartbreak in the online dating industry.
But, lawsuits against Internet dating sites for the false statements of customers have mostly gone nowhere, in part because Congress basically immunized such Web sites with the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which says that providers can't be held liable for the lies of third parties. You just can't legislate to protect people from their own stupidity!
Another reason the Internet dating industry has met with such little regulation: it works! According to a survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, a nonprofit research organization, 17% of online personals users said their efforts resulted in a long-term relationship or marriage. And 15% of American adults say they know someone who has married or been in a long-term relationship with someone they met online. Serious criminal complaints, on the other hand, are fairly rare.
As with many things Internet, it really comes down to an issue of privacy. People like dating in cyberspace in part because they can do it in the privacy of their own home or office. Do we really want the cyberlove police invading yet another part of our private lives?
The courts, Congress, dating sites and their clients pretty much all agree that for love to blossom on the Web, there must be privacy and ample space for fantasy and hope.
For a great summary of online dating tips and safety on the 'net, visit Findlove-Keeplove's Online Dating Tips.
(Some excerpts from the Washington Post, by Dahlia Lithwick)