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OKCupid's Been Messing With Your Love Life
By: Jessica Cherok
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It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that OKCupid didn’t learn from Facebook’s social experiment mistake. But at least Facebook conducted their negative feelings study on our News Feeds in conjunction with actual scientific research. OKCupid’s reason for their experiment? Because they were curious.

For some reason, OKCupid decided they weren’t okay with people just looking at pictures and not reading the profiles. Clearly they’re not very in touch with their users, because let’s face it — people like pictures. So OKCupid decided to remove the pictures from profiles to see how that affected interactions. In other words, some poor users had their pictures removed, without their knowledge, and most likely suffered being passed over for matches.

But OKCupid didn’t stop there. They also decided to see how powerful the power of suggestion is. OKCupid rates matches based off of questions users answer. The more similar answers, the higher the match. But OKCupid told people they were matches when they definitely were not, and told others they weren’t matches even though they were.

In other words — more people missed out on potential connections! Or ended up on terrible dates!

What’s so frustrating about OKCupid’s little experiment is their dismissive attitude toward the resulting outage. In a company blog post, they said, “If you use the internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work.”

OKCupid is blatantly skirting the issue of ethics when it comes to social experiments, probably because it doesn’t want to have to admit that what it did was wrong. Sure, most people didn't go to a site like OKCupid to find love, but I’m sure almost all of them went there thinking they wouldn’t be an unwilling participant in an experiment. 

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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