Plenty of Fish changes its strategy

Plenty of Fish, the popular free dating site, has been used mostly for hook-ups. But can it rebuild its image?


Screen shot 2013-05-30 at 6.56.22 PMThis past week, Plenty of Fish announced that it would eliminate the option of “Intimate Encounters” on its online dating platform. The reason? According to founder Markus Frind, he was receiving too many complaints from female users of the site who were getting harassing messages from men. He wants to refocus the site back to its original strategy: helping people find real relationships, not hook-ups.


In a message to users, he shared that out of the site’s 3.3 million members, only 6,041 are women looking for no-strings-attached trysts. In addition, he said that “the ones with hot pictures are mostly men pretending to be women.”


This was a bold admission for the founder of such a successful online dating site (the site is free for users, but pulls in a significant amount of money each year in ad revenue).


Mr Frind said in his statement: “When I created POF, I wanted it to be all about finding relationships with the right person. For the first seven years, this worked really well, I got the site to 10 million users without any employees and PoF was generating a ton of relationships.”


But Frind said he would now be making changes and eliminating the Intimate Encounters option, adding: “Intimate Encounters on POF can be summed up as a bunch of horny men talking to a bunch of horny men pretending to be women.”


Other changes include putting limits on age gaps. Those members who are more than fourteen years apart are not allowed to message each other. According to Frind: “There is no reason for a 50 year old man to contact 18-year-old women. The majority of messages sent outside those age ranges are all about hook-ups.”


I’m curious to see if any other online dating sites take similar actions to prevent their sites from being used primarily as hook-up destinations rather than relationship-seeking sites. Many sites guard against things like inappropriate photos and harassing emails. But ultimately, it is up to members of the site to decide how they will use it. And free sites are more susceptible to misuse than paid sites.


There are certain measures that every dater should take before using an online dating site. Plenty of Fish has made it a little easier by rooting out fake and sleazy profiles, but there are still a few things to be aware of:


“Hot” pictures. If the pictures are lude or sexy (showing intimate body parts or making sexual gestures at the camera), likely the profile is fake. If this is what you want, there are plenty of porn sites out there. But if you want a relationship keep this in mind.


Getting virtually intimate. If your date is telling you how much he wants to have sex, or how he’s fallen in love with you just by your emails, beware. If you’re intimidated by his pursuits then tell him thanks, but no thanks.


Meeting in private. If you’re meeting an online date, please meet him in a public place. Don’t let him pick you up and don’t meet him at a private house (his or a friend’s). You don’t know him or what he wants. Meet everyone in a public space first.



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