Online Dating/Tracking. Creepy or the future?

Qualman mentions the role social media is playing in today’s world. He expounds on the idea that many of the basic knowledge questions one would learn in the traditional dating scene are already known before the first face to face interaction. What if you actually knew more? What if dating sites tracked your activity to identify trends and patterns that you follow to identify suitable candidates for you? That’s exactly what dating companies are doing.

Below is an article from Mashable discussing what dating sites (some up and coming) are doing to help make the process more streamlined for potential daters. So, what are your thoughts? Is this the wave of the future? Or is this still a strange realm MOST people will never experiment with? Why or why not?

Post by today (9/25).

BY SAMANTHA MURPHY KELLY

More couples are finding love on online dating sites, and it makes sense: thanks to finding a mate within the comfort of your own home and schedule, these platforms are getting smarter. Way smarter.

Dating platforms are collecting an enormous amount of data about how people look for a partner and what they say they want, especially compared to who they pursue.

And it’s only going to get more sophisticated from here — in fact, Match.com has its sights set on using facial recognition technology to allow users in the future to highlight the features they are most attracted to. This will help the company provide matches most in tune with their preferences.

To learn more about how some of the biggest dating sites — and platforms with a niche dating focus — are matching up people worldwide, Mashable spoke with the teams behind some of the most high-tech algorithms out there. Here’s a look at how your personal data is used to find the one.

Match: Broad Reach

With more than 1.9 million paid subscribers, Match.com’s data pool has been increasing for the past 18 years. It is the largest dating site in the world and according to the company, has brought more people together than any of the platforms on the web.

“We keep refining our algorithms, which takes so much into account when matching people up,” Amarnath Thombre, president of Match.com told Mashable.

In addition to asking each member anywhere from 15 to 100 questions, the company weeds through the essays they fill out about what they want and gives points to each user based on each parameter in the system — from education and the vocabulary they use, to hair color and religion. People with a similar amount of points, which are weighted on certain areas, have a greater chance of being compatible.

“We also take historical data into account, as well as distance — people in Dallas are more inclined to date someone far away than someone in Manhattan, who might not want to date someone who lives in Queens,” Thombre said.

The site also looks at what people say they want in a partner and who they are actually pursuing on the site.

“People have a check list of what they want, but if you look at who they are talking to, they break their own rules. They might list ‘money’ as an important quality in a partner, but then we see them messaging all the artists and guitar players,” he said.

Match.com also sends matches based on this behavior: “Similar to Netflix or Amazon, we know that if you liked one person, you might like another that is similar,” Thombre said. “But of course it is different here. Carlito’s Way may be your favorite movie, but in this case, he has to like you back for it to be a match.”

Moving forward, Thombre says Match.com wants to experiment with facial recognition technology via the site.

“We have done a lot of interesting work on facial recognition and think there is a lot of potential for online dating,” Thombre said. “People are drawn to certain facial features and how a person looks, so with all the technology out there today, it’s something we would really like to get involved with.”

HowAboutWe: Activities Focus

HowAboutWe has embraced an algorithm different from other dating sites because its focus is less on online interactions and more on helping people get offline and on actual dates.

“Our deepest insight is that it’s difficult to predict chemistry online,” said Aaron Schildkrout, HowAboutWe co-founder and co-CEO. “That’s why our ultimate focus is on actual dates. Get offline — that’s where the chemistry happens.”

Behind the scenes, HowAboutWe says it “builds quickly and tests everything” on the site as a part of an effort to pair couples up based on how they like to date, from having picnics in the park to visiting amusement parks.

 

“We actually launched HowAboutWe with a robust algorithm, which we subsequently got rid of after realizing that we had put the cart far, far before the horse,” Schildkrout said.“We actually launched HowAboutWe with a robust algorithm, which we subsequently got rid of after realizing that we had put the cart far, far before the horse,” Schildkrout said. “It’s only after you achieve significant liquidity in a market that you can build a useful algorithm.” 

As the user interacts with the site, the company gets a better sense for their unique preferences and the recommendation algorithms rely less on an ‘average person weighting’ and more on what is inferred from their behavior.

“Over time, we can pick up on patterns such as, ‘this user only messages people who have children and like to exercise,’ and make recommendations accordingly,” he said.

It factors a few key patterns from general user behavior on the site too, such as how the average person is more likely to message someone of a similar or higher education level. But characteristics such as political affiliation are much less important for HowAboutWe users.

Coffee Meets Bagel: Social Focus

Coffee Meets Bagel is one of the younger dating platforms on the market. The free service curates user data — including Facebook profile pictures and preferences — as well as behavior on the site to “like” or “pass” on a person to make match predictions. The site delivers one match (called a “Bagel”) to users every day at noon.

Through research, the company discovered that in addition to religious background and education, social

Online Dating/Tracking...Creepy or the Future?

Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/windkoh/6889444097/

context is ranked high for many daters.

“We found that having at least one mutual friend amplified the probability of two people connecting by 37%,” said Coffee Meets Bagel CEO Arum Kang. “We also found that women are more sensitive to ethnicity and social context (mutual friends), so our algorithm takes all of that into consideration.”

“People talk a lot about big data these days, but the biggest area of opportunity is incorporating social elements into that through user inputs such as friend recommendations,” Kang said.

With this in mind, the site has a feature called GIVE where members can recommend Bagels they think are good for their friends.

“The mutual connection rate on the GIVE Bagels are 30% higher than our own algorithm’s,” she added. “Ultimately, we believe, like Facebook does, that our members do a better job than algorithms at regulating human interactions.”

Image: iStockphoto, Djahan

Posted in Interactive Media and tagged , , .

9 Comments

  1. I think that online dating sites are getting more and more popular. When they first started, people where cautious because they weren’t sure if the person was being genuine. Now, it seems like people don’t want to waste precious time at social hubs, trying to find their soul mate or getting rejected over and over. They just want to meet someone and hope for a relationship that will last. With more than 2 million people using these online dating sites, I think it’s save to say that most people are giving it a fair shot.

  2. Dating websites seem to be a little popular I mean if you go back ten years this would have been considered absurd and someone would have the impression that you are absolutely insane but, since social media this has changed. I do believe it does have an impact on some people and, alot of people do take advantage of it but I do not think it is a wave of the future. I believe that traditional ideas of dating, meeting someone, getting to know them and etc are still more common and more popular then dating websites. In a whole other perspective though I wouldn’t say dating websites are necesarily the wave but, Facebook has taken a huge toll in dating more commonly in teens. Teens message each other from other areas and, try to get to know that person which if they didn’t have Facebook they would have never even knew that person existed. Messaging helps the people get to know each other and meet in a area close by. So by my perspective I don’t think the actual dating websites are the wave but, I do think Facebook is huge in the dating world.

  3. I think people are still going to experience with online dating but it is not the wave of the future. Online dating might keep increasing in users because there are always people who are going to be apart of an online dating service. Websites that are coming up with new and different ways to make matches will continue to improve their rankings. However, most people still meet and date offline and do not believe in meeting someone over the internet.

  4. I dont have a problem with dating sites i think its a good way to meet somebody new but you have to be carefull because the person you think your talking to may not be that person. There is also alot that could go wrong if your meeting up with a person you met on a online dating site. The site kind of tracking what you do on that dating site isnt really weird well its kinda weird but if your on a dating site your not trying to hide any thing and there just trying to help you find a perfect match. If you didnt want to find someondy then you wouldnt be on that dating site and there just trying to find the perefect match for you.

  5. I have mixed feelings about online dating. I think that it can be a great option for people who just move to a different location to meet new people. Also, some people can be really shy so it could make the first date less awkward. However, I feel that some companies have too much information about people that are using their sites. I think that facial recognition is not something that should be done online. If the online user is using looks alone I think that normal dating is the route to take. Also, most of the dating companies track the users viewing and patterns to find suitable matches. I feel it is similar to watching someone’s Facebook and is a little bit of an invasion of privacy. I think that some people find success in dating sites but I do not think they are as great as everyone says they are.

  6. Personally I believe that this technique is definitely strange but maybe that’s just because it’s a new thing and so others (like myself) may be skeptical about it. However I do know that a pretty decent size of the population has used or uses an online dating service. I know that it is here and I think that it will only become bigger and bigger because in my mind people are getting lazier and most don’t want to work for anything. These dating sites make possible for some people to meet and try and kick off a relationship without having to actually go talk to a person. Now I’m not saying everyone who uses online dating is the same I’m just saying the majority is that way. I think that people are more paranoid now-a-days and so online dating may be the reason why these people choose that path instead of going on a blind date with someone who could potentially be a psycho or something of that nature. So I think online dating is a decent idea however I don’t think it is a better route to take when trying to find a heartfelt relationship with someone.

  7. “Online Dating/Tracking. Creepy or the future?”
    I have never personally been a fan of the online dating scheme. Personally, I think it’s just another way that people are losing the human interaction we need to build strong social skills. Also, there’s always the fact that people can so easily lie or spread false information about themselves over these sites. I’m not overly paranoid, but there are things that I don’t want everyone able to see.
    With new technologies being developed by Match.com and other sites to help us find our “mate”, they are just allowing people to judge based on individual traits. This is even going so far as to be able to like certain facial features or shapes. This is reaching a whole new level of degrading and shallowness. Sure, we may have preferences in what people we like look like, but is that really that important? Are we going to turn down a guy/girl because their nose is too round?
    Overall, this whole tactic of online dating is not building strong relationships comparatively to real human interactions in my opinion. How can a site ever capture who a person really is? What we see is just a shallow shade of the person on their profile. While the sites claim 1 out of every eight marriages, how many of those are followed in divorce? Now, that’s a statistic I would love to hear!

  8. I think that a lot of people will try (emphasis on TRY) these services. It’s a new thing, and for people who are looking for their “special someone” I think it will be an exciting and new approach to dating for them.
    But to me, I think it’s creepy. It’s unsettling to think that a website could take all of your information from all of your social media platforms and websites and put it out their for complete strangers to find all in one big profile. It’s even more unsettling to think that someone would agree to that, but we all know that lots of people will.
    I don’t know why people can’t just meet someone the “old fashioned way,” by talking to them in a coffee shop, not by meeting on CoffeemeetsBagel.com, or asking for someone’s number in a supermarket, not by tracking them down on Match.com.
    I believe that it’s easier to understand who a person is by actually talking to them and meeting them in person, than by reading their online profile.
    People will use this, however. And some will even enjoy it. Will everyone agree with it? No. But that’s the future.

  9. Dating sites will work for some people, but not for others. I believe that personal interaction is key in any lasting relationship, but I do not have a problem if people find each other online. Although, some people act very differently online than they behave in person, which could very well pose a problem between two. Beside that possibility, these sites could be very convenient for someone, as they might not get out much, therefore they will not have many opportunities to meet someone else, let alone someone they will like. I highly doubt that online dating will ever completely replace physical dating, but the actions that are being taken to help online dating become more accurate appear to have great potential.

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