Last week Internet dating site Match.com agreed to conduct background checks on its members in order to settle a lawsuit brought by a woman who was raped by a man she met on the dating service website. The man had six previous convictions for sexual offenses. He pleaded “no contest” to a charge of sexual battery and is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 19.
Before the lawsuit, Match.com was not conducting background checks on its members, despite the fact that another former Match.com member also had been convicted of raping his date. Instead Match.com included disclaimers on its website that advised members to meet in public places and take other safety precautions.
But because it is sending potential dates to other members, there will be more responsibility taken to lessen the risk of harm being done to a Match.com member by using background checks and sex offender registries to weed out those with criminal records.
The development signals a probable shift in the way other online dating services conduct business as well. Industry experts and lawyers expect other dating sites to follow suit with some kind of formal, across-the-board criminal background check.