There had been speculation since last fall that this decision was coming after users suddenly noticed they could no longer search for Intimate Encounters. Frequent Intimate Encounters users might not have realized that if they searched for four or more Intimate Encounters, they triggered filters that blocked them from messaging members who did not want to hear from these singles. Those who did know this often created secondary accounts—one for legitimate dates and another for their secret exploits.
In addition to eliminating Intimate Encounters entirely, PlentyofFish is also setting an age limit on who members are allowed to message. Members may not message singles who are more than 14 years their junior or senior. The accounts of those who do not comply will be deleted.
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While I commend POF for aiming to change their hookup site perception, I'm skeptical that simply shutting down Intimate Encounters and imposing an age limit on who you can message will shift their identity. I don't doubt Frind's altruistic intentions, but it goes without saying that many advertisers, who are the bread and butter of the site's revenue stream, don't want to associate themselves with any shade of legal prostitution. In the meantime, it looks like dirty old men will have to resort to finding their sexual partners the old-fashioned way—on Craigslist.