Defending Facebook, OkCupid says it also runs user-behavior tests

Studies like Facebook's are necessary for product testing, the dating site said

OkCupid's landing page, pictured July 28, 2014.
OkCupid's landing page, pictured July 28, 2014.
  • OkCupid's landing page, pictured July 28, 2014.
  • OkCupid's landing page.
View all images

Facebook sparked criticism over a study in which it manipulated the feeds of some of its users, but the dating site OkCupid says what Facebook did is normal, and that in fact it has run its own user-behavior tests.

In 2012, Facebook altered the amount of positive and negative content in users' feeds, to see the impact of the posts on their mood. The feeds of less than 700,000 users out of Facebook's 1.32 billion total were altered. The ethics of the study were called into question, with one U.S. senator calling on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the study violated Facebook's policies and FTC laws around "unfair or deceptive acts or practices."

The dating site OkCupid, however, says experiments like Facebook's are necessary for testing features and products, and for making websites better.

"Guess what everybody: If you use the Internet, you're the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site," OkCupid said in a blog post on Monday. "That's how Web sites work."

OkCupid uses an algorithm to show users other people the site thinks would make good matches, partly using a questionnaire.

The company has run its own experiments, such as when it removed users' photos from their profiles, or told people they were good matches when the algorithm said otherwise. Not surprisingly, people sent more messages when OkCupid told them they were compatible, the company said.

OkCupid terms of use are broad. The information the site collects about its users may be used to "perform research and analysis about your use of, or interest in, our products, services, or content, or products, services or content offered by others," the company says in its terms.

Facebook, meanwhile, constantly tweaks its algorithms to determine what posts to show to users and when. Part of the controversy over Facebook's study though, was whether Facebook was being sneaky in how it did it.

Facebook's terms, though few may read them, are also broad. Users' information may be used "for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement."

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Disruption Down Under – What’s Amazon’s real competitive advantage?

Savvy shoppers wait in anticipation, while Australian retailers are gearing up for the onslaught. Amazon’s arrival is imminent.

Change across the board: Why boards need to digitally evolve

Traditionally the non-executive board of a company acts in an advisory capacity - attending monthly board meetings to offer overarching advice and guidance typically focusing on:

Jodie Sangster

CEO, ADMA

The most desirable customers you’ve overlooked

“What will really move the needle?” This is a question that keeps leaders awake at night. And at the intersection of some of their top priorities – finding pockets of growth, redefining the customer experience, and making an emotional impact – lies a latent market: Their diverse customers.

Really inspiring !

Goldenboy Media

Jaywing sets sights on Australian growth with digital and data-driven agency model

Read more

Being aware of regulations or guidlines is just the start. As our CEO Emma Lo Russo stated exactly two weeks ago at an event we supported...

Alan Smith

​Are the Wild West days of influencer collaboration over?

Read more

Rebranding is always nice solution to get better organisation. Businessman may apply certain special services (for example, https://www.l...

David Hill

CMO interview: Spearheading the global rebranding of OFX

Read more

Thank you so much for sharing this article.Top Digital Marketing company in Bangalore

Way To DM

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Thanks for the great article Jodie, agree many boards and senior execs are operating in outdated modes, just as we need some reverse soci...

sharyn

Change across the board: Why boards need to digitally evolve - Data-driven marketing - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in