Dating Site OKCupid: “We Experiment on Humans”
By Brian Shields
Tue Jul 29th, 2014 12:08pm America/Los_Angeles
NEW YORK (KRON) — The people behind the popular dating web site and app OKCupid aren’t shy about saying “We Experiment on Humans.”
Just months after an internet uproar over revelations that Facebook had conducted psychological experiments on its users, OK Cupid says it does the same thing and no one should be surprised.
“We noticed recently that people didn’t like it when Facebook “experimented” with their news feed,” OK Cupid Founder Christian Rudder writes on the corporate blog. “Even the FTC is getting involved. 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.”
Rudder details several such experiments including one where they removed all of the pictures from the site for a day. He says that led to fewer conversations but the ones that took place appeared deeper and more meaningful.
“Basically, people are exactly as shallow as their technology allows them to be,” Rudder writes.
Another experiment involved letting users rate people on both personality and looks. What they found was that most users just paid attention to looks and didn’t really notice the text that described a person’s personality.
“So, your picture is worth that fabled thousand words, but your actual words are worth…almost nothing,” Rudder says in the posting.
He also describes an experiment where people who appeared to be bad matches for each other were told, wrongly, that they were perfect for each other.
“When we tell people they are a good match, they act as if they are. Even when they should be wrong for each other.”
Of the hundreds of comments on the blog post, some users think there’s a difference between Facebook experimenting to improve ad revenues and OK Cupid’s tests as a way of improving their service. But others were clearly angered by the admissions.
“Thanks for messing up my life and the lives of many others,” one user said.
Alexa lists OKCupid among the web’s five most popular dating web sites.
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