Attract, Convert and Retain members: Advisory calls and Dating Site Startup Bootcamp & Consulting Services Sign Up Today

Thoughts on Match.com Fake Profile Lawsuit

By now most of you have heard about Match.com being sued for not removing inactive members in a timely manner (among other things like displaying fake profiles).

Looks like someone interviewed a bunch of ex-Match employees and contractors and figured out they had a case against Match. Lawyers performed “exhaustive analysis of thousands of fake, inactive and fraudulent profiles.”

Newsflash to lawyers: Of course there are thousands of fake and inactive profiles on Match. And Chemistry and eHarmony and Plentyofish and every other website out there. Just like there are thousands of scammer auctions on eBay, every single day.

Of all the dating sites out there, Match probably does the best job at removing fake profiles. Why? Match has built up a top-notch customer service team and the technology and infrastructure to support anti-fraud efforts. I would estimate that they have more anti-fraud stuff in place than almost any other dating site.

Ignorant/bitter singles and lawyers with dollar signs in their eyes, thats the extent of this lawsuit. Unless of course we’re missing something, one never knows.

Fake profiles are quite a different story than inactive members. I’ve written about dating sites leaving inactive profiles up too long for years. Lots of dating sites hide profiles after 6 months or so, depends on the site. Others leave them up forever.

A while back a top-10 dating site owner told me that their site’s code was 80% anti-fraud and the rest was the dating code. Thats a lot of security measures in place. And they are still not very effective.

Match is being singled out here because they are the Market leader and named in the lawsuit. this lawsuit could be brought against eHarmony, OKCupid, Plentyoffish, HowAboutWe or any of the other sites in the news lately. Lawyers won’t sue a free dating site, at least not the ones I’ve talked to. Pockets aren’t deep enough to justify the amount of work required to win the big money.

And what about Fling.com or AdultFriendFinder? Those are the fertile training grounds for spammers and scammers and chock-full of fake and inactive profiles.

People are generally ignorant about how scammers work on the Internet, and that fuels these kinds of allegations.  If a scammer/spammer is flooding Match with 10,000 fake profiles a day, those profiles are going to be live on the site for a certain period of time before members flag them. I don’t care how much technology or best practices are in place. There is some lag time before profiles are removed and it varies widely between sites.

Match certainly has upstream technology that looks at IP addresses, blacklists and other criteria for identifying potentially harmful accounts. To learn more about this, check out companies like iovation (disclaimer: I’m an official partner).

A dating site will use software that identifies reoccurring patterns like a specific IP address creating 1,000 profiles, so they block that IP address. Or they will see 25,000 profiles created with the exact same phrase in the profiles and block or delete them all.

But catching all fake profiles before they are released onto the site? Never gonna happen. This is similar to why your anti-virus software will never catch every instance of a bot net, trojan or virus. Scammers adjust their “attack vectors” to continuously outwit anti-fraud systems and the anti-virus vendors send out new updates continuously. why not sue them as well?

Years ago there was the Twizzler incident, where people found that thousands of Match profiles all contained a standard phrase about how much the person loved the candy Twizzlers. Obviously the works of spammers, the profiles were removed.

This goes on all day every day. Machines catch the majority of the scammers and Match members flag the rest. Crowdsourcing and technology is the only way to really get a site as spam-free as possible.

Problem is, some sites see the total number of profiles as paramount and are not willing to prune their membership database accordingly. Thats bad for business and the industry as a whole. The online dating industry is not exactly gung-ho about the phrase “rising tides raise all ships.” (Apologies to JFK for the paraphrasing).

Its easy for people to join lawsuits like this when the performance of the site is so closely tied to their personal well being. You are kind of weird, don’t communicate clearly, have a pervy vibe, a crap inauthentic profile and photos that look nothing like you and you only message 24 year old women. 50 of them a day, with the same weak come-on. You suck at online dating and now you blame the dating site. Shocker.

You are 45, divorced twice, have four kids and live in a trailer park. Guess what, spammers love you because you are vulnerable. They know they aren’t going to get anywhere with the hot Marketing VP at Fidelity making $150,000 that lives around the corner from me. She is not vulnerable. She is smart, she knows that a certain amount of scammers/spammers exist in every corner of the Internet. But like spam, its a numbers game, so they flood sites as best they can and the weakest of the herd fall for the scam.

Can Match do a lot better keeping their database clean of spammers and scammers?Absolutely, along with the rest of the dating industry and eBay and Craigslist and 100 other websites.

Here’s what Match need to do. It needs to stop this nonsense about having 20 million profiles. That is 100% bullsh*t, but the marketing machine has been spouting that number for years and it certainly can’t backpedal on the statistic now.

Its curious that this number hasn’t changed, especially with all of their international growth and acquisitions.

In recent years, Match acquired People Media and SinglesNet and didn’t attribute any of their members to this 20 millon profiles number. Now they are running dating on Yahoo and that didn’t even budge the total profiles number. Crazy.

Or, perhaps their churn rate is so absolutely unique that they always have 20 million profiles. Doubtful.

There is a whole discussion around defining active members vs. total # of members in the Match database. That is a much more interesting conversation to me than % of fake profiles on a site. Use the search box, we’ve talked about there here many times in the past.

ClassActionLawsuitsInTheNews has more information. Make sure to read the comments, especially the one by”Irked in Illinois”.

Dating Industry Advisory Services

Are you a dating site startup looking to make a splash or an established player in the marketplace looking for answers? Online Dating Insider Advisory Services focus on product development, revenue generation, site traffic, site reviews and *much* more. Contact us to learn more.