Just as the controversies over Facebook experimenting on users by manipulating their news feed are ebbing away, dating site OKCupid has announced how it tweaked the service to carry out experiments on its users.
OKCupid founder Christian Rudder disclosed it in a blog post titled “We Experiment on Human Beings” in which he explains how the site carried out the experiments and also the results. He also said that being subject to such experiments is unavoidable for all internet users as “that’s how websites work.”
One of their experiments was to remove all users’ photos to test how people interact without seeing a picture of the other person or a potential date.
Following this move, the site’s traffic dropped significantly contradicting the fact that those who went on a blind date expressed that they had a good time regardless of the looks of the partner.
Another fact unraveled in the experiment was that women were happier around less attractive men while those who dated more attractive men were comparatively less happy.
Ironically, when the photos were brought back, the same women started deciding whether or not they would respond to messages based on the looks of the sender, which according to Rudder shows “people are exactly as shallow as their technology allows them to be.”
Yet another experiment revealed that people rated others higher based only on the attractiveness of their pictures even if the rest of the profile was blank.
In another experiment, OKCupid recommended a few matches as ‘highly compatible’ even though its own algorithms say otherwise, based on the details they provide about their desires, ambitions and interests. To this, people tended to respond more positively just because it was a recommendation from the site.
OKCupid has received feedback from several people since the revelations, most of them stating that it was funny and depressing.