July 28, 2014 –
OkCupid.com is feeling what it is like to be on the receiving end of criticism after the co-founder of the company admitted to lying to users and manipulating data in order to conduct private studies.
Christian Rudder, the co-founder of OkCupid, recently wrote a post where he bragged about experimenting on OkCupid users in the past and admitted that “OkCupid doesn’t really know what it is doing.”
The post came at a time that Rudder is promoting a new book on data that he wrote. In his post, he admits that OkCupid secretly used members as guinea pigs without their knowledge (until after the fact) by conducting “experiments” on them. Here’s one experiment he describes:
“we took pairs of bad matches (actual 30% match) and told them they were exceptionally good for each other (displaying a 90% match.) Not surprisingly, the users sent more first messages when we said they were compatible.”
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Lying has been a big issue on online dating services since the beginning. But it’s usually users that lie and not the online dating service a person puts their trust in to help find an compatible match. Rudder’s defense is that the experiments were a way to analyze the site’s algorithm to see if the power of suggestion trumped actual data.
However, the same experiment could have been conducted with a large “focus group of users” so as not to purposely deceive and lie to users.
A question of legal liability also comes into play. If OkCupid told a couple that wasn’t a good match that they were an exceptional 90% match and as a result they went on a date and one of the people attacked the other, would OkCupid hold some responsibility in that? After all, they purposely lied and deceived both couples in the name of conducting “experiments” because “OkCupid doesn’t really know what it is doing.”
Online Dating Magazine has spoken out against users users providing false information to dating services and, likewise, it is the stance of Online Dating Magazine that companies deceiving users in the name of “data gathering” or “experiments” is absolutely 100% wrong if the user hasn’t agreed in advance to be a part of such experiments.