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Meet The Organization Improving The Online Dating Industry From The Inside

Industry
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It’s Saturday night. The stomach butterflies are building as you prepare to meet your latest Tinder date. You’re both Seinfeld fans who love animals and sweating it out in grueling CrossFit classes. And you’ve always had a secret thing for redheads. You have a good feeling about this one. But do you really know them?

Online dating fraud victim numbers have hit a record high. Scammers and catfishers develop increasingly clever cons, swindling lovesick singles out of money and property, and in some cases committing violent crimes. Even avowed advocates for digital dating have to admit the system has serious flaws.

Recent months have seen several companies in the industry take matters into their own hands. OkCupid introduced a member pledge in attempt to curb the unsolicited sending of explicit images. Bumble joined forces with the Anti-Defamation League to announce a zero-tolerance policy against misogynist, abusive, and inappropriate behavior. Tinder launched the ‘Menprovement Initiative’ to raise the bar for male behavior on the app.

Governments have also stepped in. In China, three central state departments called for stricter regulations for the country’s matchmaking industry following an entrepreneur’s suicide.

But many would say there’s more work to be done, and the Online Dating Association hopes it’s the organization to do it.

The ODA was set up in 2013 by a group of dating site providers who believed the industry needed to take responsibility for setting and maintaining its own standards, rather than relying on privacy, data, and consumer law to protect the market and their users.

To that end, the ODA developed a groundbreaking Code of Practice that all members must abide by in order to earn and maintain membership. The code covers core issues that matter to users - including the clarity and honesty of the services offered, the protection of user’s personal information, the proper operation of services - to create the most enjoyable and safe experience possible.

The ODA also holds events at industry briefings and conferences to open a dialogue about what can be done to further improve online dating for its users.

“We were founded as a voice to represent the dating industry,” CEO Andrew McClelland told DatingAdvice.com. “We give providers the opportunity to compare policies and ensure they have sound practices across the board.”

Providers of online dating services wishing to join the ODA will be asked to give an undertaking of compliance with the Code and to explain the arrangements they have in place to achieve this compliance. Current members must make available full details of the Code to users, on request, and without charge or obstruction.

Today the ODA’s membership includes many of the biggest names in online dating, including eHarmony and Match, as well as niche services and up-and-coming players. The organization actively recruits new members who support its standards and ideals, and as its influence grows, the ODA is looking to expand its reach beyond its original home in the UK.

For singles, that’s excellent news. When the ODA logo appears on a dating site, it’s confirmation that the platform provides a trustworthy, authentic, and safe place to meet people - a dose of reassurance all daters could use as romance gets all the more digital.