In what must come to many people as a shock, the founder of the dating site OKCupid, Christian Rudder has admitted that his company has carried out several experimental tests on their users without their consent and without their knowledge. But don’t be alarmed, the test is on love and how people respond to love situations.
Christian Rudder made this revelation in a blog post titled “We Experiment on Human Beings”, and he states in the said post that “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.”
In one experiment on blind dating, the OKCupid management briefly removed the photos of members from their profiles to see how this would affect the interactions between people seeking to find love, and it isn’t surprising that their traffic stats went down significantly – and in this particular experiment, Rudder states that “people are exactly as shallow as their technology allows them to be.”
Again they tested to see if members would rate others as attractive and with a great personality based on their photos and in total disregard for their profile data, and it was found that members rated others high based on the attractiveness of their photos even if their profiles are blank.
And in a third experiment, they found that people exchanged more messages and photos and interacted more with others they find attractive even when the website’s metrics haven’t found them compatible – in one word, people went ahead to date based on personal judgments and considerations in total disregard of the fact that the website’s metrics don’t find them compatible.
According to Rudder, “if you have to choose only one or the other, the mere myth of compatibility works just as well as the truth”. But in the overall feedback received from members after the revelation of the experiment was made, many found it funny while most others found it kind of depressing.
Recently Facebook was accused of such social experiment which was carried on 700,000 user and even complaint was filed against Facebook. What would be your reaction if you found out you’d been the subject of social media experimentations over time without your knowledge?