5 online dating sites and apps to be careful of, post Ashley Madison hack4 min read . Updated: 23 Jul 2015, 02:35 AM IST
In the last few years, several Indian startups have made inroads into the online dating space
New Delhi: Earlier this week, a hacker group named “Impact Week" hacked Ashley Madison, the dating site for cheaters, and in the process, compromised user data, pictures, credit card information and sexually explicit chats. The objective of the hack, according to reports, is to “blackmail the site into shutting down," primarily because of their “morally dubious business model." The Canadian site boasts of nearly 40 million users (37 million users), whose data is now at stake.
A report in The Times of India on Wednesday claimed that 275,000 Indians may have suffered due to the hack. The report also says that Ashley Madison had a “quiet launch in India in January 2014" and “within months 275,000 Indian users signed up without any marketing push."
While online dating is not as popular in India as say in the United States or Canada, or even China, in the last few years, several Indian startups have made inroads into the space. Interestingly, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and matrimonial sites like Shaadi.com are still preferred by those interested in online dating. Besides apps like Tinder and sites like OkCupid, which have emerged as popular options among Indian users, there are several indigenous apps like TrulyMadly, Thrill, Waltzz, Krush, Footloose No More, SirfCoffee and Woo, which are gaining popularity among users.
According to data from a dating site, there were six million Indians who signed up on various dating sites in 2012. That number, was expected to rise to 115 million by 2015.
With dating sites (and apps) coming under the hackers’ radar, here are five such platforms Indian users should be wary of.
Founded in 2004 by Harvard University students, Chris Coyne, Christian Rudder, Sam Yagan and Max Krohn, the online dating site was rated among Time Magazine’s top 10 dating sites in 2007. It was later acquired by Internet media congolomerate InterActiveCorp (IAC) as part of its “The Match Group" division, which owns several popular online dating sites including Match.com, Twoo, Tinder and SpeedDate.
As of June, OkCupid has nearly 10.15 million unique monthly visitors. The site is known for its quizzes, and multiple-choice questions, which it uses to generate matches for its users.
Another product from the IAC stable, “hookup app" Tinder has seen a spike in popularity among Indian users, especially in the last 18-24 months. The app, which has been mainly targeted towards “millenials" or those between the age of 18-34, claims to have nearly 1.6 billion swipes (you swipe right on Tinder for a match), with 26 million matches per day, as of April. Estimates on Mashable suggest that “the app has been downloaded by more than 50 million users to date." However, in March this year, a security flaw meant that the app was tweaked by hackers to make men flirt with men. It also came under scrutiny after a flaw in the app revealed users’ exact locations for months.
Co-founded by Sachin Bhatia of MakeMyTrip fame, TrulyMadly is probably India’s very own version of Tinder. Since its launch in 2014 as a website, TrulyMadly, according to a TechCrunch report in March this year, has “reached 200,000 downloads..." with a females forming a third of its ever expanding user base. That month, TrulyMadly finished a Series A funding round that saw it raise $5.6 million. Bhatia, in the report cited above, is targeting around “3.5 million downloads by the end of the year."
Launched in 1995 by Gary Kreman and Peng T. Ong, Match.com is among the oldest dating sites on the Internet. Match.com is also a part of the IAC franchise, having been acquired by the company in 1998. The site is rated #1 for online dating in the US and boasts of 35 million unique monthly visitors (as of June 2015, Statista). However, in April this year, tech site ArsTechnica reported on a security flaw on the website, where signed up users have their “site password exposed each time they sign in because the dating site doesn’t use HTTPS encryption to protect its login page." Match.com currently serves 25 countries and is available in eight languages. In 2014, Match.com launched a dating app called “Stream", which is similar to Tinder.
AdultFriendFinder is easily one of the largest casual (adult) dating sites online, with a global user base of 63 million users. Ranked among the top 100 websites in the US, AFF was founded in 1996 by Andrew Concru as WebPersonals, which later became FriendFinder. According to online analytics site SimilarWeb, AFF had nearly 35.4 million visitors in June 2015, a majority of them being desktop users. Earlier this year, in April, the site was hacked, with personal details of at least 3.9 million users posted across several online forums. The details posted include “sexual preferences, email addresses, sexual orientation, dates of birth, addresses and usernames."