OkCupid Experimented on Users

Dating site 'brags about messing with emotions'

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 29, 2014 2:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – Online dating firm OkCupid has admitted using its members as guinea pigs—and, as its blog post title "We Experiment on Human Beings!" signals, it isn't exactly sorry about it. The company says it has played around with people's profiles, removing text and photos in some cases and telling users they were a 90% match for each other when they were really a 30% match, the Washington Post reports. The results were fairly predictable: Users told they were 90% compatible were a lot more likely to exchange messages than users told they were a 30% match. OkCupid revealed the real scores after the experiments ended, though it's not clear how many real-life dates the games with user data may have resulted in, the New York Times notes.

In the blog post, site co-founder Christian Rudder defends the experiments. "OkCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing. Neither does any other website," he writes. "But guess what, everybody: 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." Facebook was slammed as immoral when similar experiments came to light recently, but OkCupid's efforts are "way creepier," writes Rebecca Greenfield at Fast Company. The site not only brags "about messing with people's emotions for the sake of science," she writes, but the results of changing compatibility scores appear to show that "the company's algorithm doesn't work."

Looking for love with all the wrong data?
Looking for love with all the wrong data?   (Shutterstock)
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