Surprise! You Could Be Committing A Federal Crime On Your Online Dating Profile

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If I'm going to be arrested for committing a federal crime, I at least want it to be a federal crime I knew I was committing. Preferably something really badass, like a complicated art heist from a major museum.

What I don't want to go to jail for is my online dating profile, because when all the other prisoners talked about the crazy crimes they got locked up for, there's no way I could say "online dating."

All joking aside, apparently there's an actual chance that you could be committing a federal crime by - wait for it - lying on your online dating profile. Which means basically everyone is now a criminal. Here's what's going down...

Coffee Meets Bagel Is Now Nationwide And Mobile

Coffee Meets Bagel
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There's big news coming out of the Coffee Meets Bagel camp: the free online dating site that provides one match every day at noon is expanding nationwide and releasing an iOS app.

Coffee Meets Bagel launched in New York City in 2012, when three sisters decided there must be a better way to date in the Big Apple. They created CMB based on three guiding principles:

  1. Unless you want to tell others, your dating life should remain private.
  2. Your friends are the best conduits for your dates.
  3. Meeting quality people doesn't have to be so awkward or complicated.

Users sign up through Facebook and receive one match - a.k.a. a 'Bagel' - every day at noon that is somehow connected to them. Members then have a time limit in which to respond with a simple LIKE or PASS. If all goes well, Coffee and Bagel are put in touch via a private company texting line and magical breakfast-y sparks will fly.

Co-founder Dawoon Kang says that with the new iOS app, Coffee Meets Bagel is hoping to find the happy medium between traditional online dating services and the current trend of more casual dating apps. "We want to deliver you a very good-quality match, one that you would expect from subscription services, but with the fun of mobile apps," she told TechCrunch.

Coffee Meets Bagel is full of gamified elements that are bound to work well in a mobile context. Members earn 'coffee beans' in the app when they perform certain actions like inviting friends or filling out information. They can then use the beans to purchase special features, like the ability to return to a missed match or a score and ranking. Coffee beans can also be purchased separately.

After its successful launch in New York City, CMB expanded to Boston and San Francisco, followed by Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. The service is now being released to everyone, but the sisters warn that it could hit a few stumbling blocks along the way. In smaller cities with fewer users, the app may not be able to provide a daily match until word spreads and more local users have signed up.

"As we grow, our member base is going to become a lot more diverse," Kang says. "[We'll] have to refine the algorithm very quickly ... to be able to deliver a personal, relevant match." Coffee Meets Bagel has already made more than 1.5 million matches, so it sounds like that diversity isn't far off.

Alcohol: More Trouble Than It's Worth?

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Some things just don’t mix well: oil and water, politics and Thanksgiving dinner. And, believe it or not, alcohol and the first date.

There are many that oppose this concept; for example, they might not want to stifle any aspect of who they are, no matter how trivial. Some might want a drink to loosen up and better “be themselves.” Perhaps the reasoning is that they drink socially all the time, and have for years, and thus are confident in their ability to keep it together.

However, no matter how conservative a drinker, or shy, or authentic you are, it might be worth taking a pass on alcohol that first night. First and foremost, even a little alcohol can impair your judgement, and you’re there to assess your compatibility. It’s one thing to get a little silly when you’re already comfortable with your friends; it’s another to get cozier than you might have otherwise. Some even use alcohol to intentionally make their date seem better; all this does is waste time for the both of you. You’ll just have to make the same decision later.

Next, there’s always a bit of a risk when it comes to drinking. Maybe you couldn’t eat that day thanks to first-date nerves, and you’re getting much tipsier, much faster. Maybe this restaurant makes their drinks much stronger than you’re used to. Unfortunately, you might not realize before you’re already drunker than you intended. And while a little alcohol might help you talk more easily, too much could lead to conversations you’d never ordinarily have. Or blackouts. Or vomiting. Not exactly the first impression you want to make.

Then there’s a safety issue. Let’s imagine that someone other than your date put something in your drink. Perhaps if you’re with friends who know you well, someone might notice you’re not yourself and get you medical attention. But instead, you’re with someone who has just met you; for all they know, you’re simply drunk. However, if you aren’t drinking alcoholic drinks in the first place, your behavior would certainly seem out of the ordinary to even a casual bystander.

First dates are fraught with nerves and peril. It’s tempting to stifle a little of that stress with a drink or two. However, before you choose your beverage, you might want to weigh the risks and benefits, and choose or limit accordingly.

Will Facebook Graph Search Finally Make Online Dating Cool?

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That's the question posed by Cliff Lerner, founder and CEO of SNAP Interactive, in a recent article on HuffPost.

Personally I like to think we've already decided that online dating is cool, but maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel better. Maybe the rest of the world isn't as on-board with the idea as the social and professional circles I run in. For those people, Lerner says, the launch of Graph Search could make all the difference.

When Graph Search was announced, online dating sites went a little bit insane. Some feared that because it could meaningfully connect singles through friends and common interests, it would mean the end of traditional dating sites. It even includes the option to search by "relationship status," making it clear that dating is a key element of the new feature.

"The concern," Lerner explains, "is that singles will gravitate more and more towards Facebook for their online dating needs since Facebook already has superior data and profiles and now is offering enhanced friend and interest-based search and matching functionality for singles."

But fear not, online dating sites, because Lerner also says that line of thinking "couldn't be more wrong."

Facebook's Graph Search could be a valuable opportunity for dating sites. Currently only 1 in 5 singles visit a dating site each month, and the biggest opportunity dating sites have for growth is to crush the stigma associated with them once and for all. The best way to get that remaining 80% of singles to log onto online dating sites is to make it seem as normal as possible.

Enter Graph Search, which subtly blends online dating functionality into the Facebook experience. With the addition of "social dating" to Facebook, a brand new crop of singles is being introduced to online dating in an understated, but effective, way. And once they get a taste of what it has to offer, there's a good chance they'll turn to online dating sites to get more out of the experience.

Voila - Facebook Graph Search might actually be doing the online dating industry a favor, not driving a nail into its figurative coffin.

"It's only a matter of time before the online dating industry says a huge "thank you" to Facebook for removing the online dating 'stigma,'" writes Lerner, "and thus enabling millions of more singles to enter the 'online dating' market, which will ultimately expose many new millions of singles to destination dating sites."

40 Days of Dating: Can You Successfully Date Your Friend?

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Many people have been going a little nuts over Internet sensations Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodwin, two friends, colleagues, and the creators of the blog and dating project 40 Days of Dating. If you've been reading their daily posts, then you probably are dying to know - did they stay together or break-up?

Friendships that become romantic are nothing new, but we all wonder - why is it that some friends are able to overcome their worries and progress into a long-term relationship while others are left feeling awkward and resentful of each other? As it turns out, we can watch exactly how one such friendship plays out.

The couple set the website up as an experiment, because they were both having terrible luck at finding love. Timothy was your good old-fashioned playboy, the non-commital let's-just-have-fun type who didn't want to get serious with a woman. Jessica was of course the opposite - a hopeless romantic who fell quickly for the men she dated, which eventually left her heart-broken and wondering what went wrong.

While the set-up is generic, the day-to-day observations by each of them as they proceeded to date each other exclusively over the course of 40 days, attend therapy sessions, and blog about their feelings and experiences, are pretty engaging and enlightening. Many times, they completely misread and misunderstood each other. Many times they just wanted to cut loose and run for the hills instead of proceeding with the relationship. But because they were forced to stay and try to talk with each other, to come up with a workable solution that would last the 40 days, they found themselves confronting their demons on more than one occasion.

Their weaknesses (hers being loneliness and his being vulnerability) came out, and they weren't able to hide. This is what makes their relationship progression an interesting thing for us readers. They couldn't hide behind their masks. They had to take them off, to stand in front of each other and expose their insecurities and fears. And that makes for good Internet (and maybe a good movie---it seems they have signed with an agent).

While Jessica and Timothy have seemed to grow in their experiment and slowly trust each other enough to (maybe?) fall in love, they still have a long way to go. As with many relationships, trust and commitment aren't built overnight - it's a process of discovery, of revelation. The only way to move past the infatuation stage is to really spend time and get to know each other.

So what does this mean for friends who aren't sure whether they should date? The bigger question is: will you regret it if you don't at least give it a try?

Facebook Updates Its Data Use Policy

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In a move that will probably surprise no one, Facebook proposed updates to its Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities for the millionth time.

In another move that will probably surprise no one, most users probably aren't even aware of Facebook's proposed changes.

And in a move that might actually surprise a few of you, Facebook allowed users to comment on the proposed changes and, after the commenting period closed, decided to delay the update as it deals with criticisms from privacy groups.

What? Facebook is being thoughtful, acting concerned about privacy, and taking others' feelings into account? Who are you and what have you done with Facebook?

Seriously, though, it's awesome that Facebook maybe cares a little bit about what its users actually think. Their announcement of the updates said that both the Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities would receive new language that clarifies:

  • How advertising works on Facebook
  • What to expect when it comes to using your name, profile picture, content and personal info with ads or commercial content
  • How to control or remove apps you've used
  • What data you're sharing with mobile devices

The proposed updates were met with resistance from privacy groups, who asked the FTC to prevent Facebook from enacting the changes over concerns about how the social networking site handles user information for advertising. According to these groups, the new policy makes it easier for Facebook to use the data of its members for advertising without their consent.

"The Federal Trade Commission must act now to protect the interests of Facebook users," said a letter sent to the FTC and signed by officials from six groups, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "The right of a person to control the use of their image for commercial purposes is the cornerstone of modern privacy law."

The proposed new Data Use Policy states that Facebook will use the personal information supplied by users to provide more relevant advertisements. Unlike the previous Data Use Policy, which says "We do not share any of your information with advertisers (unless, of course, you give us permission)," the new policy says nothing about permission ("...we may use all the information we receive about you to serve ads that are more relevant to you."). It's a small change in language that means an awful lot.

Privacy groups now fear that actively giving permission is a thing of the past and that by using Facebook, your permission is automatically assumed. The real issue here is that companies like Facebook need to communicate in simple, plain language about how they handle users' data. Until that transparency is achieved, we have a long way to go.