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Online dating is HOT. How hot? Clicking and swiping for love has tripled among young people since 2013, the Pew Research Center says in a study released just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Some 27 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24 now report using online dating, up from just 10 percent in 2013. Fueling that trend: App-dating, with Tinder and Tinder-like tools such as Bumble becoming mainstream. Nearly one-in-ten American adults (9 percent) have used a dating app on their cellphone, up from just 3 percent who reported doing so in 2013.

Not since the early days of the Internet — when only eBay and dating sites like made money — has online love been such a big deal. Even older Americans are getting in on the act – 12 percent of 55- to 64-year-olds have ever used online dating, double the 6 percent who reported doing so in 2013.

Attitudes about online date seeking are changing, Pew says, which might be contributing to the growth. Eighty percent of Americans who have used online dating agree that it is a good way to meet people. Some 62 percent agree that online dating helps people find a better match, and 61 percent agree that online dating is easier and more efficient than other ways of meeting people. Meanwhile, 29 percent know someone who has met a spouse or long-term partner via online dating — and 46 percent of college grads knows a digital marriage.

Some hesitation remains. About 45 percent agree online dating is more a dangerous way to meet people (more women than men think so), and 16 percent say “people who use online dating sites are desperate.”

Online dating presents other risks, too. Last year, I wrote about an IBM study revealing most dating apps are vulnerable to hackers. There’s also the Internet’s most effective crime, Romance Scams. (Here’s a 10-year-old story on that). And do I have to mention Ashley Madison?

Which brings me to my real point here.  By now you should know that Ashley Madison was jam-packed with fake profiles. I’ve been hearing a lot about new dating apps having the same issue.  Have you encountered fake profiles on dating apps? I’d like to hear from you. And I also hope you find whatever you are looking for on Valentine’s Day.

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