For years, online dating sites have promised that their almighty algorithms could turn strangers into soulmates.
But recent research suggests that their love-engineering is about as foolproof as flirting with random people at a bar, and a new breed of dating sites are using social networks, rather than science, to help singles find romance.
Online dating services such as theComplete.me and Circl.es are looping singles’ friends into the matchmaking process in an effort to connect people to each other’s acquaintances and keep suitors from weaving the kind of elaborate fictions that characterize many profiles on traditional dating sites.
“Facebook has created a shift from online dating to social dating,” said online dating expert Julie Spira. “Facebook technically could be the world’s largest dating site. And if you look at these new players, they’re taking advantage of the fact that they have this fabulous universe of people.”
Facebook revolutionized the web by replacing screen names with real names, and now online dating startups are following suit with features that eliminate anonymity. The creators of these sites say this shift will help keep users honest and accountable for their actions, which in turn should help people find better matches, lessen the stigma attached to many matchmaker sites, and make online dating feel more like offline dating.