2012 network of members and free dating site

"Facebook has created a shift from online dating to social dating," said online dating expert Julie Spira.

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Both are solitary exercises that often yield an experience far different from what the picture promised, and users' inboxes are flooded with irrelevant emails for weeks afterward.

But browsing these new social dating services can feel like a series of blind dates, only speedier and more efficient. Rather than sorting through nonsense nicknames attached to suspiciously flattering photos, users can see other singles' full names, the friends they have in common, the pictures they've used as their Facebook profile photos, and, depending on their privacy settings, their hometown, alma mater, interests and employer.

The entrepreneurs behind these social dating services hope that marrying users' offline identities with their online personas will dissuade people from making inappropriate advances, and take some of the awkwardness out of meeting people face-to-face.

The personal information these sites provide can serve as an ice-breaker, and users can follow up with mutual friends to fact check others' claims.

"Most dates are set up through friends, but most dating sites have nothing to do with friends.