Online dating (or Internet dating) is a system that enables strangers to find and introduce themselves to new personal connections over the Internet, usually with the goal of developing personal, romantic, or sexual relationships.

An online dating service is a company that provides specific mechanisms (generally websites or applications) for online dating through the use of Internet-connected personal computers or mobile devices.

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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.

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

Online dating services allow users to become "members" by creating a profile and uploading personal information including (but not limited to) age, gender, sexual orientation, location, and appearance.

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.

Still others rely solely on paid membership subscriptions.

Opinions and usage of online dating services also differ widely.

However, Sam Yagan describes dating sites as ideal advertising platforms because of the wealth of demographic data made available by users.