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OKCupid plays with our hearts without worryThe dating site conducted an experiment that falsified compatibility matches without telling users. When the results were published, OKCupid's co-founder said only two users complained. CNET's Bridget Carey explains the test and why it matters.
Okay, cupid is playing games with our hearts. I'm Bridget Carey and this is your cnet update. [MUSIC] Let's talk about love. The dating website OKCupid is stirring up some controversy with a little experiment it performed on it's users. To see how much compatibility test matter, it told people who were 30% compatible that they were actually a hot match. Turns out when you're told you're a good match, even if you aren't, you're almost twice as willing to have a conversation with that person. OkCupid also tested the opposite. It told users that were a great match. That they were only 30% compatible. Now some folks were influenced and less willing to talk. But many still ended up having a conversation. So although it's good to be a match. It helps to be told you're a match. This is a fascinating experience. These folks didn't agree to be part of an experiment. Unless you count agreeing to some. Vague legal statement in the data use policy some say messing with human emotions in secret is unethical. OK Cupid often does light-hearted reports that poll users and study how the site's being used but this is a dating site that doesn't take itself too seriously. But toying with love and emotions with false match results falls into a different uncomfortable category. Let's back up to see the bigger picture here. OkCupid's co-founder, Christian Rudder, says this experiment was done in the quest to improve the service's matchmaking algorithm. And that people were later made aware of their actual matches. But the timing's interesting. He's also promoting a new book. In an email, Rudder told me that, out of the 1.2 million users that logged into OkCupid when this study was announced. The site only received 2 complaints from users. So we have to ask ourselves, if OK Cupid users aren't that upset, will other web sites look at this example and also try to get away with conducting similar mind games, warping the information we see? They say you can't believe everything you read on the internet, but maybe we need to update that thought. You can't always trust what you read on the internet because you could be part of an experiment. Facebook got heat recently for a similar reason. Emotionally manipulating users in the name of science. But Facebook will find a new way to annoy some users this week. It has begun the process of forcing everyone to download the messenger app to hold private conversations. Users who have not downloaded the separate messenger app are getting emails nudging them that soon the main Facebook app will no longer let you have private messages. That's your tech news update and you may have noticed our set background is different. This will be my temporary home for awhile while our old studio is under construction, but in the meantime you're still getting the same update flavor, just in a new limited edition package. From our studios in New York, I'm Bridget Carey. [MUSIC]