Double to offer casual online dating with an escape hatch

Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:13am EST
 
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By Eric Auchard

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - For the twenty-first century problem of how to move from a casual online encounter to a real-world one, a London-based website is proposing a very traditional solution: double dates.

Double pairs up two Facebook friends to go on a joint date with two other friends they meet through the website's local network, tackling some of the perils of meeting virtual strangers face-to-face by making dating literally more social.

"It's more fun, less awkward and safer," said Double co-founder Gary MacDonough. "If the date isn't going well, you can still have fun as a group of four."

The online dating market exploded to life two years ago among under-35s when Tinder revived an unapologetic, meat market approach to eyeing possible dates by simply letting users swipe through a stream of photo profiles on their phones.

The model for older, more established sites required users to fill out elaborate questionnaires, but demographically they were settling uncomfortably into middle age as younger users flocked to social networks and mobile chat applications.

Tinder has built on the earlier popularity of the "Hot or Not" app, a face-rating site set up in 2000 by two Berkeley engineering graduates that inspired legions of successors.

Mark Zuckerberg was nearly expelled from Harvard University for creating face-rating site Facemash before going on to start Facebook, the world's biggest social network.

The lack of personal information on such dating sites, however, raises the chances of disappointment when users meet up in the real world, and a larger gathering can provide a valuable escape hatch when things don't go to plan, according to Double.   Continued...