OKCupid Messes with Its Users

By Julianne Tangney July 31, 2014

OKCupid, a popular dating site, was recently caught doing similar experiments on their users as Facebook.  The profiles of consumers would be intentionally altered and the compatibility of matches would be manipulated.  OKCupid claims they wanted to test out their service to see how well the matches are working.

Cory Johnson, an anchor at Bloomberg Television, explains that, “There were a handful of tests where they basically altered people’s profiles to see what kind of response they would get.”  Examples of this would be changing or removing the text on the user’s profile.  Another experiment involved removing the photo on their profile for 7 hours.  Johnson explains how the company was looking for a possible increase in messages after the photo was removed.  User’s without the picture received 44 percent more messages.  Along with an increase in messages, people would also exchange information quicker and have deeper conversations. 

OKCupid proceeded to experiment on their users by testing the success of their matches.  They did a different test where they changed the compatibility score for some users.  Johnson explained that one match might be changed from 30 percent to 90 percent, or the other way around.  The company found that the higher the percentage, the more likely people will message each other.  Consumers would be more confident and active  when they thought it was a suitable match. 

OKCupid argues that these experiments will help them improve their service and generate more traffic on their website.  They seek to improve the matching and better understand how their users react. 

Facebook received more heat for a similar scandal, which is a surprise to many because OKCupid is messing with the emotions of their users.  Both companies justify their actions by saying their users are their products and they can do what they want with the data given to them.  Facebook and OKCupid are engaging with their consumers, but it is not the type of engagement that consumers deem acceptable.  

Edited by Maurice Nagle

TechZone360 Contributing Writer

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