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Match.com’s Rocky Relationship with the Public

We’ve all heard that there is no longer a stigma associated with online dating. Technology is increasingly bringing the human race together while also pulling us further apart, which means that each of us is closer than ever to people we’re never going to talk to–let alone date.

Still, the possibilities of online dating are almost limitless. We love that idea–and it draws thousands of paying customers to sites like Match.com. Unfortunately, as we all know, the Internet is not reality. In fact, at its worst, the Internet involves the most despicable parts of reality masquerading as rainbows and unicorns.

So when a woman recently brought a lawsuit against Match.com for connecting her with a man who ended up stabbing her 10 times, we immediately saw that this story, in addition to being a tragedy, also illustrates a future PR conundrum: to what degree are dating sites responsible for the behavior of their clients?

As we’ve learned from the financial industry, certain behaviors and decisions can be both unethical and perfectly legal. So though dating brands may not be legally responsible for connecting sane people with crazy people, from a public relations standpoint the online dating industry must make every effort and exercise due diligence when it comes to protecting their customers. They need to get in front of this, now—before the industry slides back into its nascent reputation as being a place where the undesirables lurk.

Just where do you think the responsibilities of dating sites begin and end, and how should these brands handle the consequent public relations challenges?

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