Sunday, November 20, 2005

Corruption in the Online Dating World

Several of my friends (and even a family member) have recently engaged in online dating experiments. Some more serious than others, to be sure. From what I've observed so far the system seems more reliable than not. Two of four I know who recently employed the service have found people. They may not be perfect matches, but they are just as good as someone you might pickup in a bar.

But not all is well in the online dating world. First, there is an entire section in the book Freakonomics (a must read for anyone who believes the world doesn't always appear as it seems) regarding how honest people are about their personal preferences. There are a whole slue of interesting statistics about which profiles get the most hits. For those who don't want to bother to read the book: men who are tall and make more money, women who are blond and slim. Perhaps most startling, however, is a racial issue.

In a survey of racial preference, 50% of white women and 80% of the white men indicated their preference as "doesn't matter" (as opposed to "the same as mine"). This information is public. What is not public is that 90% of emails from white men who said race didn't matter were directed towards white women, an 97% of emails from white women declaring no racial preference were directed towards white men. This information is not public.

Enough about the members on these sites... let's talk about their proprietors. Two suits (whose plaintiffs hope to achieve class action status) have been filed against online dating sites. The suits allege that Match.com and Yahoo! Personals have been sending out false emails and setting up sham dates with clients who have a high chance of cancelling their service (i.e. no one responded to their profile). There is even an alleged RICO claim... I don't know a whole lot about RICO, but I do know that it's heavy stuff, and people go to jail.

So, as with all internet things... be on the lookout for bad data and scams.

1 comment:

srcastic said...

You mean you can't trust online personal ads?