OkCupid is actually a massive psychological experiment

29 July 2014

okcupid-300x300 Looking for someone with their own teeth, face, head and a GSOH who shares your love of craft beer/cat memes/potholing? Well, chances are you’ve dabbled with online dating.

If you’ve got a profile on OKCupid, however, start getting worried. Its founder Christian Rudder, recently wrote a blog post, and admitted that the site used Facebook style psychological tricks (without users’ knowledge).

The post, subtly entitled ‘We Experimented on Human Beings!’ told the world that the company removed text from profiles, hid people’s photos and even told users that they were a perfect match when actually they completely incompatible.

Why? ‘We might be popular, we might create a lot of great relationships, we might blah blah blah,' Rudder wrote. 'But OKCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing. Neither does any other website. Experiments are how you sort it all out.’

Their first experiment was called ‘Love Is Blind’, and removed pictures from all the profiles and found that conversation flowed and message responses were up 44%. (Of course, as humans are irretrievably shallow, these conversations stopped as soon as the profile pictures went back up.)

Then they tried to work out how much the text on the profile mattered - compared to the photo - and found that you may as well have just written skduskwehlwhfjfdjhsjsrslrsekajeskhjr and posted a photo of a hot girl in a bikini. Text mattered less than 10%.

But perhaps most heinously, OKCupid deliberately mismatched couples to see what would happen. Thankfully, the couples figured out that they were awful for each other straight away.

While these experiments are pretty revealing, and show what a crock online dating actually is, not telling users what they’re up to is still pretty dodgy. But Rudder is unrepentant.

‘Guess what, everybody: if you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site.’

*secretly massages your algorithms*

TOPICS:   Technology   Social Media   Privacy

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