A megabit on the side Then there is the fuss over sites such as Illicit Encounters and Ashley Madison, which have sparked an outcry by matching people seeking partners for extramarital affairs.
Outraged critics claim such services deliberately promote infidelity to further their commercial ambitions.
“The period between New Year's Day and Valentine's Day is our busiest six weeks of the year,” explains Sam Yagan, the boss of Ok Cupid, a big American dating site.
Once seen as the last resort for a bunch of lonely geeks, online-dating services have gradually shed much of the stigma formerly associated with them.
Yet while looking for love online is no longer seen as an act of desperation, the digital-dating industry still generates plenty of controversy.
Its critics charge that sites' claims of matchmaking prowess are often greatly overblown.
In countries and cultures in which arranged marriages are common, sites such as India's Shaadi and Bharat Matrimony, which boast many millions of clients, are a big hit with young people who want to influence how their marriage partners are chosen.
And a number of sizeable digital matchmakers, including Jiayuan and Zhenai, have risen to prominence in China.But some sociologists, such as Millsom Henry-Waring of the University of Melbourne, have given warning that electronic forms of communication in general—and digital-dating services in particular—are gradually changing society's conception of relationships and marriage for the worse by encouraging people to view partners as commodities that can simply be traded in for better versions at the click of a computer mouse.Dating executives retort that although the industry is not perfect, many of the criticisms levelled at it are unfair.One of these is that people now move around more often for work, distancing themselves from friends and family members who could play matchmakers.Another is that they are living longer, and hence more likely to look for new love later in life.Vampire lovers can sink their teeth into the profiles on offer at Vampire Passions, while those obsessed with i Pads and i Phones can hunt for their i Beloveds at Cupidtino, a dating site for fans of Apple's products.