True.com has always been a study in contradictions, an upstart dating website promising "a wholesome environment for courtship" while rather shamelessly inundating the Internet with ads featuring photos of scantily clad women and, in one alleged case, a dead soldier.
For a time, the paradox worked. The New York Times reported in 2007 that the company "has seemingly come out of nowhere to become one of the most visited sites in the $700 million-a-year online dating industry." Then, it didn't.
True.com, the headquarters of which has been reported variously as Flower Mound, Irving or Plano, filed for bankruptcy last year, the $50,000 it claimed in assets dwarfed by its $50 million to $100 million in liabilities.
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The company is now seeking a bankruptcy judge's approval to sell off its assets, a process that Texas attorney general and gubernatorial hopeful Greg Abbott says has revealed another contradiction between word and deed.
When users signed up for True.com, they were promised that the very detailed personal information they submitted, which includes address and phone number, bank account information and sex surveys, would not be turned over to a third party without their consent. Now, the company is asking for permission to sell its entire 43 million-member database.
Abbott announced this morning that he'd filed an objection to the sale in federal bankruptcy court, requesting that True.com be forced to obtain customers' permission before the deal can go through.
Under the deal proposed by True.com, customers will receive a notification email and be given the opportunity to opt out. Abbott wants the company barred from selling data unless customers explicitly opt in. It's hard to imagine many people doing so, thereby dragging the market value of the True.com database to basically nil. That won't go very far toward settling their debts.