Most services also encourage members to add photos or videos to their profile.Once a profile has been created, members can view the profiles of other members of the service, using the visible profile information to decide whether or not to initiate contact.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.

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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.

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.

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.

While some sites conduct background checks on members, many do not, resulting in some uncertainty around members' identities.

For instance, some profiles may not represent real humans but rather "bait profiles" placed online by site owners to attract new paying members, or "spam profiles" created by advertisers to market services and products.

Such companies offer a wide variety of unmoderated matchmaking services, most of which are profile-based.