Love in the Time of Algorithms

Online Dating Coaches Help Hapless Singles Meet Their Mates

Consultant Laurie Davis, client Chanel Omari, and fellow dating coach John Keegan. (Photo: instagram.com/eflirtexpert)

Michelle’s path through the world of online dating has been littered with frauds, phonies and disappointments. Take the cop who claimed he was on disability leave. On their first date, he let slip that his “leave” was actually a suspension, the result of charges that he had beaten an ex-girlfriend.

Then there was the runway model who claimed to divide his time between New York, Miami and Houston—“It’s always a red flag when there are multiple cities,” Michelle said with an eye roll—but couldn’t produce a single nonprofessional photo of himself. He had plenty of close-ups of his abs, though! That imposter turned out to have lifted his images from a Bloomingdale’s catalog.

And don’t even get her started on the innumerable married men who tried to court her online.  Read More

This Happened

EHarmony Founder Wants to Spend $10 Million to ‘Figure Out’ Homosexuality

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On television, eHarmony cofounder Neil Clark Warren seems like a pleasantly nutty character, the kind of aw-shucks senior citizen who says things like, “What I really need is a robot who can come in and talk with me” when his wife isn’t feeling chatty, and that eHarmony’s biggest problem “is people who are afraid to find the person who would be the right person for them.” Read More

App for That

Need to Make a Hasty Getaway from a Terrible Date? There’s an App for That

(Photo: iTunes)

We’ve all been there: stuck in the middle of a terrible first date with a boring or psychopathic or worse–luddite!–companion, with no way out. If you’re a terrible liar or none of your friends is available to make that fake emergency call to your cell, eHarmony is here to help. The Globe and Mail reports that the online dating service now has a mobile app in the iTunes store called “Bad Date Rescue” that will help you make your getaway, stat.

The whole system is surprisingly detailed. You can choose an interval of time at which to schedule the fake phone call, which purports to actually have a real voice on the other end. You can also specify which emergency you want to fake: your mom calling to say your sister is in labor, your neighbor to tell you your apartment is flooded or your boss to say there’s a work emergency. Read More

eHiring

Path.to, an “eHarmony for Jobs,” Expands to New York

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Given the dearth of qualified engineers in New York (and Facebook’s propensity for hoarding them), an online job tool geared solely towards programmers and designers was more or less inevitable. Enter Path.to, a Florida-based online job company that announced today that it is expanding to New York, along with Chicago and Boston.

Path.to describes itself as an “eHarmony for jobs,” but if you can forgive them for that PR fumble, the company’s approach to hiring is actually quite novel. “We try to get a deeper understanding of job seekers, life situation, personality, their experience and education, as well as their passions and interests,” Path.to’s CEO Darren Bounds told Betabeat by phone last week. “We pair that with a better understanding of a business and their culture and what it takes to be successful in a particular role. We combine those two things and sprinkle algorithmic sugar on top, and we come up with a Path.to score. It’s a 0-99 measure of how compatible we feel a person is with a specific role at a specific company.” Read More

Hide Yo' Profiles, Hide Yo' Kids

Seriously, What Is Even Going On: Last.fm Hacked Too

Last.fm staffers on a happier day. (flickr.com/lastfm)

Did every single cybersecurity professional on the Internet go on vacation this week? We’re starting to wonder, because not 36 hours after breaches at LinkedIn and eHarmony comes word of another at Last.fm. Can’t we trust anyone to keep our information secure? Apparently not.

Earlier today, Last.fm alerted users that the company was “investigating the leak of some Last.fm user passwords.” From the phrasing, we can’t tell whether it’s connected to the LinkedIn and eHarmony hacks, or just a really unfortunate coincidence: “This follows recent password leaks on other sites, as well as information posted online. As a precautionary measure, we’re asking all our users to change their passwords immediately.” Well, at least they preempted.

The LinkedIn and eHarmony breachers were connected–same hacker–so the obvious question is whether Last.fm is the third victim of a cybercriminal having a really great week. But this isn’t entirely out of the blue, as it sounds like Last.fm has been having some issues with user information lately. This post from Knapster01 (a customer support manager for the company) indicates that as far back as May 16, someone unsavory had gotten ahold of users’ email addresses, as Last.fm was investigating a flood of sketchy spam from gambling sites.  He wrote: Read More

Love for Sale

Is Your Dating Site Selling Your Profile? To Keep Membership High, Niche Sites Get Sly

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Angela is a 34-year-old single woman from Alabama. She’s a Leo. According to her online dating profile, she is 5’8” with blue eyes and dark brown hair. “I am a creative, witty, intelligent girl looking for someone to shower with all my love and affection!” she declares, appending a smiley face.

Angela was included in a 1,000-pack of allegedly single, supposedly American women, which Betabeat purchased for $35. Her profile is one of a purported 14.9 million for sale on SaleDatingProfiles.com, where the inventory also includes 10,000 U.K. profiles for $200; 15,000 Russians for $240, and 70,000 Australians for $95. A pack of 2,500 lesbian profiles goes for $120, or 4.8 cents apiece; gay men are .003 cents each and are sold in a pack of 410,000. “High quality Gays adult dating profiles for sale with multiplay photos located in USA, United Kingdom, Canada and other countries,” the offer states. At the time of writing, SaleDatingProfiles was having a 75-percent-off spring sale.

Angela, who asked that her last name be withheld, has been dating online for years. But she never imagined her profile was for sale on the open market, or that it now appears on MeetGirlsGuys.com, which she never signed up for. “I have never even heard of that site!” she said, adding that she lives in Texas, not Alabama, and the photo is at least seven years old.

Online dating is a fast-growing industry, with current revenues estimated to run between $1.5 and $3 billion a year. But every new dating site faces the same problem: finding souls to mate. Recruiting new customers is expensive; industry experts put the customer acquisition price at $1 to $5 per person.

SaleDatingProfiles and its competitors BuyProfiles.com and DatingProfilesSale.com offer a shortcut. They sell bulk packages of profiles that seem to include a fair number of actual singles alongside somewhat more questionable Russian beauties, Nigerian bankers and half-empty profiles, which sometimes sell for less than a dime a dozen. Read More

Love in the Time of Algorithms

Researchers Say Online Dating Algorithms Are About as Accurate as Picking Up Strangers in Bars

via www.onlinedating.org

The basic premise of OkCupid, Match.com, or eHarmony seems to be that science, or at least math, is a better judge of a potential partner than you are. While you (fallible human) may fall for a winsome smile, the algorithm knows whether that guy or gal is too religious or kinky or short for you to really get along.

However a new report commissioned by the Association for Psychological Science calls bullshit, basically. Along with four other psychology professors, Northwestern’s Eli Finkel found that while dating sites are a “terrific addition,” the algorithms they employ are no better than having a “real estate agent of love,” says Reuters. Does that mean they try to get you to go out with someone who is soulmate-adjacent? Read More