I Dated A Zombie
April 21, 2012 8:25 AM   Subscribe

Many dating websites help increase their numbers by buying profiles from third party brokers.
posted by reenum (29 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I guess I shouldn't really be surprised, but somehow I still am.
posted by hippybear at 8:39 AM on April 21, 2012


This is exactly why we should be worried about Google. Ultimately we are the product and it's just a matter of time before our data gets in the wrong hands.

The interesting part is that while companies can often easily access our data by either purchasing it or through third party collaboration, it's often impossible as an user to get the same level of access to data that we created ourselves in the first place.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:56 AM on April 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I worked for one of the flirting sites. They had teams of young graduates paid to sit in the office interacting with users of the service. I don't know if this surprises people or not.

Because the whole point of the service was to facilitate this vaguely-defined (but addictive) type of interaction called 'flirting', and it never indicated at any point that you were likely to find love or that special person, or whatever dating services used to say, there was no legal problem with this. You were flirting with a stranger online, you just didn't get told that they might be someone getting paid for it.

Reminds me of poker bots online, with casino owners sending in their own croupier bots to break up games. Perhaps I could send a bot of myself out there dating, or maybe be represented across social media by the efforts of a paid team of young hipsters pretending to be me while I go to the pub.
posted by colie at 8:57 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ultimately we are the product

We're not just products, we're commodities.
posted by tommasz at 8:58 AM on April 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Dating websites manipulate basic human emotions to make an extra buck. Film at 11.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:28 AM on April 21, 2012


Well, this isn't really about manipulating emotions, as much as it is about selling product generated by people who didn't realize it was going to be sold. There's a difference between the use of employees pretending to be site users to flirt with customers and the selling of user-created profiles to other services.

I'd never be surprised that dating/flirting websites had people paid to interact with users. I am a bit surprised to learn that profiles are brokered to help flesh out fledgling services with information about people who never signed up for that particular service to begin with.
posted by hippybear at 9:36 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


This has always been happening, ever since the Village Voice offered $50, one-time, 80 character, text-only personals. Someone I know saw their personal from the V.V. scrolling by on a late-night text-only cable TV channel, in Connecticut, five months later.

She was a polite and naive Japanese woman, who was troubled by what she saw as an honor-bound obligation to respond to all of the inquiries that trickled in.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:50 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I once worked for a place that specifically engineered their "Who's online now" dealie to only show cherry-picked results from young, attractive women.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:08 AM on April 21, 2012


I hope to never know the desperation required to pay one of these sites money. I am a member at OKCupid but I always assume when I read a profile or take two minutes to write a message that the profile could well be a fake.
posted by bukvich at 10:13 AM on April 21, 2012


On the web, nobody knows that you're part of a profile datapack.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:05 AM on April 21, 2012


On the web, nobody knows you're not you.
posted by notyou at 11:16 AM on April 21, 2012


On the web, nobody knows you.
posted by hattifattener at 11:29 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wasn't this the plot of Gattaca?
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:48 AM on April 21, 2012


There's a difference between the use of employees pretending to be site users to flirt with customers and the selling of user-created profiles to other services.

I can see the distinction you are making, but if I were a user, either way I'd be unknowingly having false interactions. Whether it's with a purchased profile, or with an employee (or perhaps even a flirt-bot), either way my time and effort (and my subscription fees, if it were a paid service) is being wasted.

I would be quite angry if a profile I made turned out to have been sold and was then being used a front for a flirt-bot or an employee; there's something very unethical about that in my eyes.
posted by Forktine at 11:59 AM on April 21, 2012


Whether it's with a purchased profile, or with an employee (or perhaps even a flirt-bot), either way my time and effort (and my subscription fees, if it were a paid service) is being wasted.

Not if the service explicitly says 'we are not for love or hooking up, just flirty chat'.

These services exist in a strange borderland between premium rate phone sex lines and conventional social networks.

Also, these services do not tend to charge upfront. You get lured into the addiction of 'flirty chat' and then premium things like 'superpowers' (e.g. you can see more of another user's profile photos or history) are then sold to you for micropayment types of sum.
posted by colie at 12:30 PM on April 21, 2012


Also I think these type of 'flirt' sites attract a good proportion of women to some extent... unlike the phone sex lines.

Interesting to see how that works out. I keep reading how young males have had their synapses rearranged by the availability of internet porn, perhaps there are other internet awfulnesses that will do something similar to women brains.
posted by colie at 12:44 PM on April 21, 2012


New customers must agree to terms of service that include a clause: “The Company has the right to exchange the profiles of Members with other Dating Websites in order to help our Members to find perfect marches [sic].

What a sham! This explains why all these dating sites try to match me with Edward Elgar.
posted by ersatz at 1:36 PM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


10,000 U.K. profiles for $200; 15,000 Russians for $240, and 70,000 Australians for $95

Ouch, man.
posted by No-sword at 2:10 PM on April 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Ahh, these sites really are about dating the internet, interesting. I must clearly learn to consider the technical meaning of phrases more carefully.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:37 PM on April 21, 2012


10,000 U.K. profiles for $200; 15,000 Russians for $240, and 70,000 Australians for $95

Ouch, man.


You wanna talk ouch?
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.
THAT is ouch.
posted by hippybear at 2:43 PM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I hope to never know the desperation required to pay one of these sites money. I am a member at OKCupid but I always assume when I read a profile or take two minutes to write a message that the profile could well be a fake.

Wow, aren't you superior! Meanwhile, in the modern world, most people meet dates online.
posted by msalt at 2:46 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


World Dating Partners says it does not trade profiles with other sites, but acknowledged that it recently changed ownership so it’s possible such a thing happened in the past.

This is my new excuse for everything.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:42 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


THAT is ouch.

You're right! I actually checked the numbers in my head because I was worried that me making that joke would be all invisible backpacky, but I overlooked the two-decimal difference between dollars and cents. Sorry!
posted by No-sword at 5:05 PM on April 21, 2012


I'm fairly perplexed by the success of the generic online dating sites like match.com honestly, although certainly the specialized fetish, etc. sites make sense.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:45 PM on April 21, 2012


I'm fairly perplexed by the success of the generic online dating sites like match.com honestly, although certainly the specialized fetish, etc. sites make sense.

Some people don't have fetishes and/or don't define themselves by some activity or lifestyle. Match, to me, is the default dating site when the other ones don't seem to apply.
posted by gjc at 6:02 PM on April 21, 2012


Actually, it seems to me that they're selling the same packs of emailing lists to spam since my junkfile tells me I'm now an approved member of foursquare and what not.
posted by infini at 11:14 PM on April 21, 2012


Trading profiles and not programmatically generating them seems quaint.
posted by michaelh at 1:18 AM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm fairly perplexed by the success of the generic online dating sites like match.com honestly, although certainly the specialized fetish, etc. sites make sense.

A lot of Americans go with the top rated TV shows, even if they're a bit safe and predictable. That's why they're top rated. Match.com is like a #1 TV show and you're in the cast.

Also, lifestyle generic doesn't mean geographically specific. If you live in a small town or want someone from your neighborhood, a niche site does you no good.
posted by msalt at 9:33 AM on April 22, 2012


I doubt any site helps that locally, but you make a solid point : If you live in a small town, you might know many people locally, but the generic dating site might show you options from nearby towns not covered by your social circle. I'd suppose online dating basically always covers for weaknesses in your social circle, but which might be geographic.

I briefly tried online dating once or twice, mostly because I often move to places where I don't know anybody. Yet, I've always found it completely useless, even for making friends. It's infinitely more efficient to simply leave-the-house to make new friends.. or find a flatshare with sociable seeming people.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:09 PM on April 22, 2012


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