OKCupid, the online dating site with 30 million members, admitted in a blog post on Monday to experimenting with users.
Site co-founder Christian Rudder outlined three experiments the company used, including hiding profile pictures, stripping the text from profile photos and lying about the compatibility of matches between strangers.
The move comes after Facebook announced it too, had used users as guinea pigs for their own experiments. In 2012, the social networking site toyed with nearly 700,000 users' newsfeeds, adding or removing the number of positive or negative stories they could see — all without their consent, according to The Verge.
News of Facebook's experiment only came to light this month, but it's sparked the ire of users as well as U.S. politicians. It's also one of the driving forces behind OKCupid's admission.
"We noticed recently that people didn’t like it when Facebook 'experimented' with their news feed. Even the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is getting involved. But 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.
Whether or not websites work to deceive visitors is up to interpretation but Rudder said they did learn a few things about dating online. When it removed users' photos for its "Blind Date Day", the site's metrics dropped but the overall experience improved with more first responses, deeper conversations and strangers swapping contact info faster.
Also, it revealed people — at least on their site — are shallow, with a profile photo's text worth less than 10 per cent of what people think of you.
Finally, when it came to misleading users about their compatibility, OKCupid says people were more like to interact if they thought the other person was a good fit. But that's pretty much where it ends. While users were more likely to take the first step in initiating the first step in to hook up, it didn't mean they'd actually connect.
For more details on OKCupid's experiments, watch the video above.
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