Rates of interracial marriage are increasing—and you might have online dating to thank, according to a new study. The MIT Technology Review calls the results of the study a "profound revelation" and signs of an improving society. Researchers Josue Ortega and Philipp Hergovich found online dating has completely upended how society is formed. People have strong links to family and friends and weak links to a bunch of other people they're connected to through those strong links. Traditionally, it was those weak links that provided a romantic partner—think a friend's coworker or something. Then Match.com and other dating sites arrived in the mid-90s. Online dating is now the most common way homosexual couples meet and second most common way heterosexual couples meet, and 15% of Americans say they've tried online dating, according to Science Alert.
Suddenly, people were forming strong links with complete strangers, ignoring those weak links altogether. Hergovich and Ortega developed a model to see how the rise of online dating affected interracial marriage. A lot, it turns out. “Our model predicts nearly complete racial integration upon the emergence of online dating," the researchers tell the Technology Review. And data from the real world supports their hypothesis. While the rate of interracial marriage has been increasing for decades, the rate notably jumped in the mid-90s, again in the 2000s when online dating got more popular, and once again in 2014 when Tinder took over the dating world. Hergovich and Ortega's model—and real-life data—also shows online dating is making marriages stronger. (Read more online dating stories.)