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London - Never mind prospective employers using Facebook to check for misdemeanours, prospective love interests may also be carrying out their own background checks before you’ve even met.

A study by Pew Research Centre in Washington has found 30 percent of people who use online dating sites search for information about their dates before meeting them, and this figure jumps to 41 percent among users aged 18 to 29 years old.

Elsewhere, almost half of young users admitted to using search engines and social network sites to snoop on their exes.

The research was conducted by Aaron Smith and Maeve Duggan from the Pew Internet Project.

They surveyed 2 252 Americans about online dating sites and using websites and search engines when in relationships.

One in 10 Americans has used online dating sites and apps, a figure that has tripled since 2008, states the report.

The number of people scoping out potential dates on social networks and search engines has more than doubled in that time.

Two thirds of users have gone on dates with someone met online, and almost a quarter (23 percent) have used online resources to find love.

According to the researchers: “For as long as romantic relationships have existed, people have sought assistance in meeting potential partners using whatever options were at their disposal.

“In the mid-1990s, online dating sites such as marked the commercial internet’s first foray into dating and relationships. As these sites have evolved in the ensuing years, they have typically assumed one of two forms.

“Some offer a ‘personal ads’ format, others take on a more active matchmaking role. Yet more recently, a third model has emerged in the form of cellphone dating apps.

“The rise of tech-enabled dating help has been one of the most striking developments of the digital era, and these alternative ways of meeting and mating have arisen at a time of fundamental change in the structure of marriage and divorce in America.”

In total, 11 percent of American adults have used a dating site or dating app and men and women are equally likely – 54 percent – to complain when a person’s profile is misleading.

More than 40 percent of women who use online dating sites claim to have been victim to “unwanted approaches” compared to just 17 percent of men.

The figures are similar on social network sites, too, with a third of women and 19 percent of men admitting to have blocked someone for flirting or acting in a way that made them feel uncomfortable. – Daily Mail