Kiwis get first crack at online dating Facebook feature

By Abby Gillies

File photo / Stephen Parker
File photo / Stephen Parker

Frustrated online daters tired of meeting people who have oversold themselves may find a solution in a Facebook application.

New Zealand is the first country to have access to the new feature of the social networking site, launched in March, and 2000 singles have already signed up. Of those 1700 are from Auckland.

Unlike traditional internet sites where daters write their own profiles, Go Break The Ice (GBTI) works on friends' recommendations - bringing a new level of transparency and honesty to the online dating world, said company spokesman Philip Behnke.

"What sounds like a good catch at first hand, is quite often nothing more than an exaggeration. Hence, users have to deal with a lot of problems: fake accounts, fake photos, and a huge tendency that other users bend the truth," he said.

The areas people were most likely to lie about when dating online were age, height and weight, job, photos and interests he said.

The concept was similar to the real-life experience of having a friend introduce two people, said Singapore-based founder Alexander Wallestam.

"At Go Break The Ice we have no scammers, no offenders, or anything else you know from other online offers. People cannot lie about themselves, or fake pictures," he said.

Auckland singleton Rod Gabb, 50, joined last month and found the application had "a bit more integrity" than other online dating sites he had used.

He has been on two dates and both had lived up to expectations.

"It's been great. I felt more secure seeing their profile and seeing who had recommended them.

"I've noticed on other sites a lot of them (women) have gone to a professional photographer so I've been disappointed they were not who I saw online,' he said.

Even those not in the market for love can take part by recommending their single friends.

A member is able to see who has recommended a potential date, and if they like what they read, can click the 'break the ice' button.

However, the application has drawn criticism from a dating expert, who argued friends' recommendations were no more reliable.

Friends were just as likely to have their own motivations when making recommendations and to highlight only the good points, said Findsomeone manager Rick Davies.

"People are naturally going to put their best foot forward in any situation, I don't think it's an online phenomenon."

And misrepresentations were just as likely to happen in person as it was online: "I'm sure we've heard the same stories from people who have had a few drinks and then met a few days later".

Mr Davies said he was not aware of any complaints to Findsomeone, which has 300,000 members throughout the country, about people overselling themselves.

He advised anyone dating online to take their time when getting to know someone and when meeting in person, to tell a friend where they're going and to meet in a public place such as a cafe.

The application is due to be launched in Singapore and Sweden later this month.

- APNZ

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