OkCupid Loses Public Trust Over Experiments
[icon color=”#e96a2a” size=”16px” name=”awesome-file-alt”] July 29, 2014 –
Online dating service OkCupid is losing the trust of the public and users over its unapologetic admission that it lied to and experimented on its users.
The biggest lie by OkCupid, during its experiments, was telling users that they were highly compatible with bad matches (see our article, “OkCupid Lied to Users during Experiments“).
OkCupid remains defiant in the face of growing criticism. According to the International Business News, co-founder Christian Rudder even told Reuters that the publicity is bringing tons of visitors to OkCupid, while the company had received “fewer than 10” complaints. But lying to customers and the public isn’t sitting well with very many people.
ALSO SEE: OkCupid Lied to Users during Experiments
Here is a look at some comments from around the Web over the deception created by OkCupid:
“When you’re matching people up with individuals who are not good matches, that would certainly be deceptive.” -Jesse Brody, lawyer/partner, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP.
“They are a for profit company that provides a good faith dating match service. And these are not just potatoes they are experimenting on, they are their customers that trusted OkCupid and made themselves vulnerable to find the best relationship as promised.” – Jaime Sheller, The Legal Examinerthese are not just potatoes they are experimenting on, they are their customers... Click To Tweet
“I absolutely think this violated the trust of users.” – Relationship Coach Donna Barnes on ABC News.
“They were actually trying to change users profiles to get more action on their site and get more business happening. This is a commercial effort to try and change the way their business is succeeding in the competitive world of online dating… I think it’s a pretty big deal.” – Cory Johnson, Bloomberg West.
“Legal experts said OkCupid’s actions appear to be in violation of a provision in the FTC act that prohibits ‘unfair and deceptive’ practices by a company that result in misleading or harming consumers.” – Jeff Stone, International Business Times
“‘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,’ wrote Rudder in a post entitled ‘We Experiment on Human Beings!’ at the company’s OkTrends blog — which, it’s worth noting, is basically a trollish plug for his upcoming book. Rudder’s comments are offensive not because they are false, but because they are patronizing and reflect a deeply flawed ethic regarding experimentation on humans.” – Natasha Lennard – Vice News
In addition, here are some video responses to OkCupid’s deceptive practices:
OkCupid is Lying to Members (TheLipTV)
OkCupid Performs Secret Social Experiments on Users (OneMinuteNews)
OkCupid Founder Defends Human Experiment (Newsbreaker)
OkCupid Users: Bad Match Experiment Dates a ‘Nightmare” (USAToday)
The whole fiasco started when Rudder wrote an article for an old OkCupid blog, where he comes off as bragging about experiments they did on users without their consent or knowledge. One of the experiments included telling people that weren’t a match that they were a 90% match.
Rudder’s comments to Reuters that OkCupid has received “fewer than 10” complaints isn’t sitting well with many people who point to the comments section of his blog post where there are tons of complaints. News media, industry professionals, and even lawyers are also questioning OkCupid’s deceptive practices. Rudder’s perceived unapologetic arrogance could also have a negative impact on parent company IAC/InterActiveCorp which also owns Match.com and Chemistry.com.
Online Dating Magazine is recommending that readers stop using OkCupid until the company apologizes for the experiments of users without their knowledge and alters the way they conduct experiments in the future.
Because Okcupid users have put forth a certain amount of personal, even private information, the company is supposed to be a guardian of trust for its users, not so much a tinkering or manipulator of what could be exposing the ‘wrong’ people to each other or whatever other experiment they deem an unapologetic thing to do. Looking for your match is often avoiding people who can create conflict, even harm, and it’s not ok to maim what trust one has put into that system and not expect account closures or suspension.
I think the site is getting really bad. Participation is down, the number of available profiles to browse is way down and the site is full of fakes and scammers.