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Dating Site Match.com Will Now Check Users Against Sex Offender Database

The popular dating site Match.com said that in the next three months, it will begin checking users against sex offender databases. The AP reports:

Mandy Ginsberg, president of the popular singles site, told The Associated Press in an email that the company had considered such screenings for years, but "their historical unreliability has always led us to conclude against it."

Ginsberg said after talking to providers and advisers the last few days, company officials decided to make a change.

"We've been advised that a combination of improved technology and an improved database now enables a sufficient degree of accuracy to move forward with this initiative, despite its continued imperfection."

The change comes a week after a California woman filed a lawsuit against the site. The woman claims she was attacked by a man she met on the site. She says the first date went fine and the man seemed charming, but on the second date she alleges the man forced her to have sex with him.

The woman's lawyer told The Los Angeles Times that Match.com's policy change comes as a result of the suit. Mark L. Webb said the man who allegedly attacked his client had been convicted of sexual battery:

Webb, who represents the woman identified in the lawsuit only as "Jane Doe," told The Times last week that he would ask a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge for a temporary injunction barring the site from signing up more members until a screening process was implemented to determine if they were sexual predators.

"They are a very powerful and successful online dating service, and they have the means to do this," Webb said.

A check like the one match.com is implementing, said Webb could have prevented his client's attack.

Ginsberg told the AP that the system match.com plans to put in place is still imperfect.

"We want to stress that while these checks may help in certain instances, they remain highly flawed, and it is critical that this effort does not provide a false sense of security to our members," she said, adding that members should always plan for a first-meeting to be in public and should tell a friend where they'll be.

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.