'That's how websites work': OkCupid defends experimentation on users

In a blog post titled, “We Experiment on Human Beings,” OkCupid co-founder Christian Rudder explained that testing customers helped the company refine its product. The company intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, reported the IAC/InterActive Corp. The report came just weeks after Facebook Inc. admitted to misleading users in a psychological study.

If you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work.

Christian Rudder, OkCupid co-founder

Couples told they were bad matches, even when OkCupid’s algorithm showed the opposite, were less likely to exchange four messages. Exchanging four messages is an OkCupid measure for gauging romantic interest. The experiment drew heavy criticism online. University of Pennsylvania computer scientist Matt Blaze suggested a few new clauses for online user licensing agreements.

We reserve the right to induce despair … You agree that there will be no love, except the love of Big Brother.

Tweet from University of Pennsylvania computer scientist Matt Blaze