|Type of site||Online dating service|
|Alexa rank||512 (April 2014[update])|
Adult FriendFinder (AFF) is an internet-based, adult-oriented social network, online dating service and swinger personals community website. It allows members to interact online, meet new friends, and seek out likeminded sex partners. The site was founded by Andrew Conru in 1996.
AFF ranks among the 100 most popular sites in the United States and is a major competitor to leading personals sites such as Match.com.
In 1994, Andrew Conru created the first online dating site, WebPersonals. After selling that site in 1995, he launched FriendFinder.com, an early social networking site intended to help people connect with likeminded activity partners, in 1996. Days after the site went live, Conru found that people were posting naked pictures of themselves and seeking partners for adult-oriented activities. As a result, Conru started Adult FriendFinder. FriendFinder has since established numerous niche dating sites, including Senior FriendFinder, Amigos.com, BigChurch.com, and Alt.com.
The parent company (Various, Inc.) had difficulty finding venture capital due to the adult nature of its signature property. In December 2007, the company was sold to the Penthouse Media Group for $500 million. Penthouse later changed its name to FriendFinder Networks.
On September 17, 2013, the parent company FriendFinder Networks Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. In December 2013, FriendFinder Networks emerged from bankruptcy protection with reorganization in effect. Founder Andrew Conru gained control of the company and serves as CEO.
Joining and creating a profile is free; however, users cannot access certain features without a paid membership, which comes in three levels, Silver, Gold and VIP. Members can use the blog system to write their own blogs and respond to others in the community. Free members also have access to regular chat lobbies. Paying users can view others' profiles and access communication services such as e-mail, private chat rooms, webcams, blogging, and a webzine. Members can purchase subscription upgrades for benefits such as higher search rankings. Members can broadcast their webcams publicly to each other. Chat room viewers can page the broadcasting member to ask to initiate a personal chat session.
Adult FriendFinder has a popular affiliate programs, whereby webmasters refer users to the site and are compensated up to $1.01 per unique click. Much of the company's growth without investment capital has been attributed to this program.
Fraudulent Billing Practices
Adult FriendFinder has been accused of committing systematic billing fraud. According to the complaints filed, the company has a practice of continuing to bill customers even after they have cancelled their service. Former employees of the company have claimed that this is their standard policy and not the result of errors. These employees have stated that the majority of customers do not notice the charges for many months. As of October 2014, hundreds of civil cases have been filed against the company and a criminal indictment was made by the FTC against the company.
There is some controversy over the true ratio of male to female members. The AFF disclaimer reports that the user database is rarely purged of expired members or those who have not logged on in years, and that they reflect anyone as being "online" if they have logged on within an hour. They have also been criticized for having excessively high numbers of fake profiles and for their stated policy that:
- From time to time models who are not site members or expired member profiles are used in external advertising of our sites and thus you should not rely upon the availability of any particular person(s) as being a member of our site in making any membership or payment decisions. [Disclaimer page|*Note About Numbers]
They have been criticized for a larger-than-average number of members who are prostitutes "looking for clients". Their matching system also counts free members, presenting them in the list of suggested matches.
Breach of Contract
The site's acquisition by Penthouse was the subject of a 2007 lawsuit by Broadstream Capital Partners, a merchant bank that assists with mergers, alleging Penthouse breached a 2006 contract by purchasing the company without obtaining Broadstream's consent, a claim Penthouse denies. The suit was settled for $15 million in 2011.
In popular culture
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