In this social media age, almost every entity depends on social media for marketing purposes. People buy and sell things on social media, get information about anything and also remain connected with distant relatives and friends through social media platforms. But there is one thing that makes me curious is – finding love through social media. There are many online dating apps as well sites which help people find someone according to their requirements. In earlier times, people used to depend on their networks to find their love or they used to meet people through things that are happening in their lives. In today’s world, people are more dependent on internet speed that run the apps and also the Algorithms that determine their mates. It seems that machine learning algorithms know a person better than everyone around him and thus can make life changing decisions for him as well. The reason behind this trust might be the fact that a machine learning model can learn from the experiences of billions of people whereas a typical person can learn only from his own experience and the small group of people surrounding him .
The dating companies can be divided into two categories: One which makes the users fill out long questionnaires asking them about all their likes and dislikes and then finding the matches depending on compatibility. For example- websites like OkCupid, eHarmony etc., second are the websites which ask permission to link their site to one’s social media account. For example- Tinder, Bumble etc. Traditional matchmaking included browsing through hundreds of profiles of potential matches which are again fetched from networks of known people. It also included hours of in-person dates because many insights cannot be derived by meeting a person only once. Compatibility signals can be easily missed if humans are involved in the choosing process, but machine learning algorithms consider not only the compatibility signals but also the sentiments in communication, response times and the length of profiles . However, it seems that the dating sites depend massively on the data that they are provided. If the questions are not answered honestly then the decisions made by the algorithms might be at fault as well. Some of the most popular dating apps with their special features are as below:
Badoo is an online dating app based in London. It used AI and facial recognition technology to find dates who match to anyone that the user likes- be it someone that the user knows or be it the favorite celebrity of the user. The app finds lookalikes from among its millions of users if the user uploads any picture. This app also helps celebrities become most searched because of the dubbed Lookalikes feature.
Loveflutter is a British dating app which helps in organizing first dates by collaborating with Foursquare, an app that helps smartphone users find nearby restaurants, bars and clubs . It has been helping people get destressed by helping them to plan the most stressful first dates. Loveflutter also plans to use AI by analyzing the chats between two people and determining the compatibility and also suggest the appropriate time to meet.
AIMM is a voice operated dating app. As soon as a user opens the app, a voice asks questions about the user about his likes and dislikes. Depending on the compatibility among options in its database, it provides the user with a number of matches. When the user selects a match, then the app tells the user details about the match. It also helps set up the first call between the user and the match. Furthermore, the app provides the user with advice regarding handling the first dates as well.
Bumble is a women oriented and location based dating app. In heterosexual matches, only the female users can make the first move while in same sex matches, either user can make the first move. As we are aware that women have to face a lot of weird experience on dating sights, this app lets women decide who they want to talk to. Furthermore, it also helps guys by pushing aside the gender norms and letting women break the ice and start the conversation.
Studies show that relationships basically depend on three things-individual characteristics, quality of interaction and surrounding circumstances . This fact already makes it difficult for technology to find the perfect match as the technology can never account for the future circumstances or the way one would hit-off with a person. The most common technologies used in online dating apps and sites are detailed profiles, proprietary matching algorithms and a tightly controlled communications process . They actually run on a mixture of technologies like science (sometimes it is better called as pseudoscience), alchemy and marketing. Online dating apps and sites are actually machines to reap millions from the Web and they are in fact big business. These sites and apps combine large databases of its users with business intelligence, psychological profiling, matching algorithms and a number of communication technologies to pair up the singles with a mate or turn the one-time visitors of the sites to their monthly subscribers. Tinder uses algorithms based on swiping behavior to find people whom users find desirable. OkCupid lets users rate how important are certain data points to them so that that they can match these data points with the potential matches when calculating the match percentage in spite of the fact that humans are notoriously bad at rating about their choices. The matching algorithms generally use Cosine Similarity or TF-IDF to find the perfect matches. But as we are aware that the matters of the human heart are complex and cannot be easily predicted. These apps and sites might attempt to use new algorithms but there is also not enough data to account for the diversity of possible outcomes .Although these match finding algorithms might not work out in all instances, but still online dating is supposed to be a useful tool.
The base of a relationship is honesty and trust and these characteristics can be earned only on the foundation of truthfulness. Both the partners are expected to be truthful in a relationship which cannot be guaranteed in case of online dating because majority of the people lie about their marital status for instance. The pictures, interests etc., are also manipulated and lied about most of the times. Recently one of my friends went on a date with a very interesting guy who had mentioned on Bumble that he has a very successful business. Later on, she came to know that he was actually a male escort. Although the job profile was not a lie but the perspective and context was totally unexpected. In this social media and digital age, there are certain sensitive areas if a person wants to online date ethically. Firstly, whenever they find the match, a person tends to browse the social media to find out info about the match. Although this area looks harmless enough, yet there is possibility of interference of personal space and also one can save time by not digging up info like criminal records. Furthermore, studies show that 1 in 4 rapists found victims through online dating sites .Secondly, if the relationship does not work out then still browsing the Web about the match to find out how they are coping up with the break up. In other words, people try to make the Web a crystal ball rather than a search engine. Someone has truly said that staying away from your ex on social media is like sticking to a diet, the temptations of which we can resist at times and at other times, we just give up . Thirdly, exhibiting bitter reactions of the failed relationship on blogs as well as social media sites. The three main actions that force a person to leak private info on social media are lying, cheating or dumping. Although these seem like emotionally charges actions, but they act as a catalyst in violating someone’s privacy.
These online dating apps and sites generally makes the user go through long elaborate questionnaires in order to find their matches. Since these sites don’t have any verification process for all the details entered by the user, there is a lot of room to break the law. Majority of the users might be honest and are in true search for an honest partner but online dating also has the scope to having exactly the opposite of whatever the user has on mind . Some of the actions might also lead to criminal acts like prostitution, online sex crimes, preying on minors, cyberstalking, etc. There does exist certain prudent steps that can be taken in order to avoid any sort of criminal acts when indulging in online dating. Firstly, users should avoid sexting by sending or receiving explicit images by phone. If the user is a minor then it is a crime that comes with unimaginable penalties. Also, there is no way to verify the age of the users and hence avoiding sexting will save one from trafficking with child pornography. Secondly, cyberstalking is a serious crime and it comes with massive fines as well as restraining orders. It should be understood that if a person says no then it should be acknowledged and honored. As far as online crimes are concerned, the trails of conversations and correspondence are pulled out and analyzed whenever a user is charged for any crime relating to it. Nevertheless, the intention does count but still cautiousness has to be kept in mind when it comes to online dating.
Online dating is a wonderful platform to meet new people and find perfect matches but at the same time, one has to be very careful while dealing with it. This form of dating is totally dependent on the smart devices and the digital and social media platforms. In earlier times, people used to say a lot about love and friendship. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said that the society was heading towards a world without meaning, morals and values . These dating apps prove that selecting a partner or a match is possible in nanoseconds now that too only by swiping of a finger. Instinctive judgements in people are also misleading as they do not even think before saying ‘Yes’ or ‘no’. The people do not even read the terms and conditions of these dating apps before agreeing to them. One of the most popular criminal usage of online dating is catfishing which can be defined by luring the victim in a relationship based on the attacker’s online persona. These attackers make the victims send money, gifts, etc. To them by feeding them problems about his/her family or health. The ‘Ashley Madison’ case of 2015, exposed married cheaters all over the world. Many users of this app were blackmailed by the hacker asking for billions of dollars in return of their info in the site. Although such instances are horrifying yet there are stories of people meeting their spouses through online dating as well. It can be concluded that although online dating has many pros and cons, technically, legally and ethically yet it opens up new choices, more relationships and more socializing in the society.