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Such sites earn revenue from a mix of advertising and sale of additional options.
This model also allows users to switch between free and paying status at will, with sites accepting a variety of online currencies and payment options.
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., Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, etc.), people with medical conditions (e.g., HIV , obese), or those living in rural farm communities.
In 2008, a variation of the online dating model emerged in the form of introduction sites, where members have to search and contact other members, who introduce them to other members whom they deem compatible.
There are mixed opinions regarding the safety of online dating.
Some sites are completely free and depend on advertising for revenue.
Others utilize the freemium revenue model, offering free registration and use, with optional, paid, premium services.
The 2016 Pew Research Center's survey reveals that the usage of online dating sites by American adults increased from 9% in 2013, to 12% in 2015.
Further, during this period, the usage among 18- to 24-year-olds tripled, while that among 55- to 65-year-olds doubled.
While some sites conduct background checks on members, many do not, resulting in some uncertainty around members' identities.