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There are various challenges that eHarmony faces as a singles matching website. These challenges arises in the sense that there are some people who have joined this website by including their details as singles while they are married in order to date another woman. This is particularly so among men. In addition to this, eHarmony has in the past used pictures of different people who were not even members of this dating website. Notably, the above mentioned challenges could attract different consequences, both to the website as well as to individuals.
Consequences of this Issue
To begin with and as mentioned earlier, some of the members who have joined this dating website are married, yet masquerade as singles in order to date single women. As a result, these men lie both to their marriage partners as well as to potential partners whom they meet through this website. It is important to understand that such an issue could attract lawsuits against the company from both parties who are affected namely; members of the website as well as the partners of the members who pretend to be single. In reference to Anderson (2005), there are different legislative measures, some of which have been implemented while others are still being debated on that focus on controlling the dating websites to protect innocent people from fraudulent activities. As such, a dating websites that fails to protect their members from these activities could easily find itself on the wrong side of the law, where individuals who are affected can sue to website.
In addition to lawsuits against the company, there is a high likelihood that most members of this dating website would loose trust with its services and seek for other dating sites when cases of cheating among some of its members increases. Liau (2006) argues that members (i.e. of a dating website) need to be sincere and truthful about the information they provide in their profile from the beginning and never exaggerate or twist the facts to make themselves more desirable in others' eye (122). In such a case, the future of the company would be put at risk.
Research also indicates that this website often used photographs of non-members to advertise their website. Such actions were unlawful and could as well attract legal action against the owners of the website. This could lead to possible closure of the website for violation of privacy of people who had no relation with this website. In reference to Cohen-Almagor (2006), the media is not allowed to use people's photos without their consent to decorate their magazines, websites or any form of media that requires that use of personal photos (35). In other words there are different laws and regulations that are meant to protect the privacy of individuals in the society. As such, the use of photos of non-members is a threat to the running of the business since this could attract heavy legal penalty due to privacy violation.
Similarly, consumers are tired of being presented with fake adverts. Note that most consumers in the United States as well as across the globe are exposed to fake advertising, especially when referring to happiness and success in the society. The business was therefore at risk of negative publicity. Note that when these consumers realize that the photos on eHarmony website belong to non-member, there is a tendency for most of them to believe that eHarmony is not a reality. This could contribute to the failure of the business to meet its target in the society of attracting as many clients as possible.
Gravity of the Issue
Whereas the issue of privacy as well as cheating among some members of this website may be taken lightly as simple issue, the consequences that accompany these issues cannot be ignored. As a matter of fact, most people who have subscribed to the services of this website are genuine people who really desire to have somebody to love and most probably get into a long-lasting relationship. However, when they are lured to the wrong people, there is a high likelihood that they would loose trust with the dating site, a factor that would cause them to seek for these services elsewhere. Note that as a business, such moves are detrimental to the ability of the business to survive in the market.
On the other hand, current privacy laws and regulations do not allow individuals or companies to use other people's photos without their mutual consent. As a result, such violations of privacy could easily attract action by the law. Note that when a company is faced by law charges in the United States, some parts of Europe as well as Australia, there is usually an increase in negative publicity of the company as a result of the autonomy that the media has in airing different high profile incidences and cases in the society. For instance, past research indicates that there are different companies that have closed down as a result of being publicized by the media for doing wrong in the society in the United States. Therefore, the issue of non-members photos and privacy matters a lot because of the fact that legal action against this dating website could lead to loss of millions of dollars as well as possible closure of the website.
It is also important to understand that most people are affected by the challenges of cheating as well as privacy issues that face eHarmony. In reference to eHarmony's website, this dating site has close to 20 million members from different financial, cultural, educational and racial backgrounds (eHarmony, Inc., 2011). This implies that the website, if it does not implement measures to reverse these trends would be putting 20 million people at risk of being defrauded. In line with this, one can argue that these issues will affect the website negatively if nothing is done to deal with them (i.e. the issues that affected the company).
Whereas the challenges that eHarmony faced were serious challenges to its existence, there are different options that could be pursued in order to control the way members used this dating website. Firstly, an alternative system could be used to address the challenges that eHarmony was facing. Note that the alternative system could be implemented with new measures that focus on gathering the background bio data of the members of eHarmony by interlinking the system with that of either the government or companies whereas these members work. For instance, whereas some of the members who provided false information did so with an aim of dating another woman, this could be avoided if this system is able to connect to company systems to acquire the member's bio data.
On the contrary, a different system might fail to provide the much needed information regarding the members of this dating site due to the legal procedures that need to be followed before a person's information is given to a third party. Note that professional code of ethics prohibits sharing of personal information with third parties. In reference to Mochmann and Müller (1979), any organization that handles personal data of people in the society had a responsibility of showing how they could guarantee the privacy of such data (166).
It is also important to mention that different dating websites handled the above issues differently. For instance, Yahoo Personal collaborated with different agencies to ensure that the profile that this company held were true. In addition to this, the owners of fake profiles were either deregistered or sued in a court of law, according to the existing legislature. For instance, Anderson (2005) points out that True.com filed a lawsuit against a man who denied he was a felon but ultimately turned out to be a convicted sex offender. Such measures prohibit up to a certain percentage cases of fake profiles.
How to fix the issue
There are different ways that the issues that were being faced by eHarmony. To begin with, eHarmony would need to acquire the consent of the owners of the pictures that this website used to advertise its services in a competitive environment. Note that dating industry was characterized by very high competition among different players in this market. As a result, using these photos implied that the website would get more clients. Therefore, by removing these photos to avoid being sued for violation of privacy would not provide the much needed solution. Instead, the website should focus on entering into a contract with models who would then be paid commission to allow their photographs to be modified and used without restrictions on this site.
Apart from this, eHarmony could also collaborate with the government whereby eHarmony would be allowed to access government databases of people who were married and those who were not. This could be done by using the passport's number or National Identification Number which must be entered into the database of eHarmony to determine whether one was eligible or not before one could go ahead and fill the registration form. By so doing, eHarmony would reduce cheating cases to a very minimum rate, a factor that would enhance clients' trust in this dating site.
There are various factors that could make a difference in the way eHarmony worked as dating site as compared to other dating site that existed in the United States as well as across the globe. To begin with, researches that have been carried out in the past show that most dating site upload fake profile to lure clients into believing that they are genuine. According to Montes (2011), one of these companies, Match.com, was sued in Federal Court in Dallas with claims that the on-line dating website, Match.com, which is headquartered in Dallas, Texas deceives its customers and subscribers by filling its listings with expired accounts and scammers, and gives men an exaggerated perception of how many women are available. In line with this, eHarmony should focus on ensuring that all the profiles on its website are true. In such cases, eHarmony's management need to be accountable from the company's perspective by implementing measures that would not only guarantee that the company is able to receive revenue but also provide the actual services that have been paid for by the customers.
The company should develop policies that would require its members to submit a scanned copy of their identification cards or passports as a way of ascertaining that they were not on a mission to lure innocent men and women into their traps. Having instituted this, the company would be able to eliminate cases of fake profiles. Notably, whereas the market was very competitive currently, some of the dating sites had proved that they were not credible. As such, maintaining a credible status in this market would play a vital role in enhancing the market size of eHarmony. In this regard, the company should work on implementing factors or rather measures that would help it to ascertain the truth regarding the uploaded profile before approving someone to become its member.