It sounds too good to be true.
Set up your profile on an online dating site for FREE…
And the science-based algorithm will sort through all the single guys in your area for you and report back with your best matches.
It’s already helped hundreds of thousands of couples find love and walk down the aisle. Why not let it help you, too?
Ah, online dating…
We love it. We hate it. But we can’t date without it anymore.
If you’ve ever wondered if online dating lives up to the hype, then keep reading to find out what online dating apps are keeping from you…
True or false:
If Guy #1 is a 90% match and Guy #2 is only a 50% match, you should go out with Guy #1.”
Match percentages play a huge role in who we decide to connect with online.
Your match percentage determines which profiles you see… and which you don’t.
A high match percentage is like a vote of confidence from the online dating site, promising that you have enough in common to at least be able to hold down a conversation.
And what determines your match percentage?
The all-knowing, all-seeing algorithm.
Dating algorithms are the bane of many people’s existence, especially on key birthdays like 30 or 40 when they see their matches drastically drop off.
But online dating sites claim that these algorithms are scientifically-based and better at spotting a match than you are. Do they live up to the hype? Or are they just a bit of clever marketing?
Here are the facts:
Not a single algorithm has passed the scientific scrutiny of a peer-reviewed research paper.
Peer-reviewed research requires that the algorithms themselves become publicly available for testing by the scientific community, and online dating sites aren’t willing to do that.
The peer-reviewed research we do have states unequivocally that algorithms focus on factors that have little relevance to lasting lifelong love. (Learn more.)
You can feed an algorithm all the information in the world about your likes and dislikes and values and beliefs, but it still can’t tell you whether you’ll be sexually attracted to someone.
It can’t tell you whether you’ll be able to live together happily or fight constructively or compromise or any of those factors so relevant to a lifetime of happiness.
So my advice to you?
Ignore the algorithm.
Cast your net wide and do your own searching yourself. Trust your gut over the algorithm.
True or false:
Online dating is the way most people meet their future spouses.”
If you believe the ad campaigns, you’d think that everyone is meeting online.
But it turns out that only 12% of Americans have married or been in a committed relationship with someone they first met through a dating site or app.
More people meet their partner at school or at work than meet online.
And the most common way of all to meet your future partner is through family and friends.
There’s a reason that it’s more common to meet a partner in real life than online. Real-life connections tend to be higher-quality.
If you meet through friends and family or at work or at school, you already have a social network in common. You share a common culture and common experiences. That makes you much more likely to click than if you’d just answered the same way on a questionnaire.
True or false:
Online dating sites need as much information as they can about you to find the best matches.”
That sounds true, doesn’t it?
If you fill out a long questionnaire, like the kind you get on eHarmony or OkCupid, the online dating site will know everything about you and will be able to match you with the perfect person.
Compare that with Tinder, where people are matching on the basis of little more than a photo. Surely that’s the difference between hookups and relationships, right? For relationships, the dating site needs to know more about you.
That’s what you’ve been told, but perhaps you weren’t told what ELSE the dating site was doing with your data.
Online dating sites are a treasure trove of data.
You can be certain that every photo you upload, every question you answer, and every word you type is being recorded and analyzed. Many dating apps even track your search history, your shopping history, and your social media profile.
Match.com has reportedly collected over seventy terabytes of data on their users.
If you’re curious to know what online dating sites save about you, some sites will allow you to request your personal information.
French journalist Judith Duportail requested her personal data from Tinder, which she’d started using 4 years previously, and got sent back 800 pages detailing what she calls her “deepest, darkest secrets.”
She was horrified that the site kept that much data—and concerned about what would happen if any of it got leaked or hacked.
We do not promise, and you should not expect, that your personal information will always remain secure.”
We tell online dating sites our most personal information. We tell them what we like and what we dislike. These sites know every detail of every profile we’ve ever clicked on, and every profile we’ve ever clicked past.
The co-founder of OkCupid, Christian Rudder, was famous for publishing analyses of the dating site’s user data, as well as running experiments on users (such as giving them the wrong match percentage to see if they end up connecting anyway).
Rudder had access to the kind of data researchers had previously only dreamed of: reams of data about people’s ACTUAL dating habits.
Research institutions came calling. In 2016, a searchable dataset of 70,000 OkCupid users was released publicly by Danish researchers, who claimed that it wasn’t a privacy breach because the data was “public” anyway.
It’s a thorny ethical question:
If you put personal information on an online dating site, is it public?
Technically, anyone can look at it. Anyone could save a screenshot of it.
But I don’t think any of us expect our personal data to be used for anything but attracting the interest of other singles.
Sadly, that’s no longer a reasonable expectation today.
Some dating sites use your information to deliver targeted advertising. Most sites do data-sharing with third parties, like customer engagement services. And most sites will hand over your private data if law enforcement requests it.
Also, be aware that if you are on any of the big online dating sites—Tinder, Match.com, OkCupid, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, and Our Time—they are all owned by Match Group, and data gets shared internally.
So be aware.
If you’re the sort of person who pays attention to your privacy settings, be very careful about what you share with dating sites.
Set up an email account that you only use for online dating. Don’t log in with your Facebook account or link your Instagram. If the site asks for your phone number for extra security, set up a separate number with Google Voice or get a burner phone.
I know it sounds like a lot of hassle, and you may not care what gets out about you online. But for those of you work in IT and know what goes on in those companies, or for those of you who read and took to heart The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, caution is warranted.
Stay safe out there!
Let us know what you think!