An interactive dating system which allows individuals (and couples and groups) to make contact and communicate with each other over the Internet with the objective of developing a personal, romantic or sexual relationship. Online dating services generally provide unmoderated matchmaking forums over the Internet through the use of computers or mobile devices.
Historical perspective: According to a study by the Online Publishers Association (OPA) and comScore Networks, U.S. residents spent $469.5 million on online dating and personals in 2004, and over $500 million in 2005, making it the largest segment of paid content on the Web other than online porn. At the end of November 2004, there were 844 lifestyle and dating sites, a 38 percent increase since the start of the year, according to Hitwise Inc. However, market is increasingly being dominated by several large commercial services, including Yahoo! Personals, Match.com, and eHarmony.