Remember the blow up over Facebook experimenting on its users via the news feed? Well, it turns out OkCupid has run multiple experiments, and happily defends its practice. The company rightly points to the fact websites perform these types of experiments everyday. From email marketing split tests, to simple design changes to increase conversions.
The company conducted three experiments on its dating site to gauge user reaction. Photos were removed for several hours on the site’s app in January 2013. What they found is that people were 44% more likely to respond to the first message and exchange contact details.
The photos were turned back on, and the conversations immediately ceased. 2,200 conversations stopped. It was the equivalent of floodlights being turned on in a bar at 2am.
In another experiment, text was removed from profiles and users were allowed to rate looks and personalities. With no text, people that scored in the looks department also nailed the personality ratings. OkCupid surmised that while a picture is worth a thousand words, your text on your profile is worth essentially nothing.
A final experiment matched people who weren’t actually matches. While the couple was actually a 30% match, OkCupid showed it hitting 90%. The power of suggestion applied here, and if people were led to believe they were a good match, then the messages started passing back and forth.
Does it Compare to Facebook?
OkCupid’s admission of the experiments were meant to defend Facebook. Social media researchers are quick to point out that the two are vastly different. Some maintain that Facebook’s experiments could lead to harm, while OkCupid could land you with a bad date.
Others are calling out the dating site, questioning where does the line for A/B testing stop and fraud begin. It’s a dating site, do we really think those profiles are 100% accurate. Hmm, physical description. Yeah, I’m athletic. Oh, favorite books? Let me act like I truly give a damn about this author I’ve never heard of. Thanks, Wikipedia.
Users are backing away from the site, upset that they are getting tested. Protip, turn off the Internet now. If you honestly think every site you’re going to isn’t split testing you into buying something or coming back for more, you have missed the boat.
So, in the end, OkCupid asked what is love? What they got was people are susceptible to the power of suggestion.