OKCupid online dating service tweaks privacy controls
Meeting that special someone online is far more commonplace now, but Internet privacy is still a major obstacle for some of those who use dating Web sites. A drop-down menu can let a user find profiles matching certain attributes, and a persistent worry for some has been their lack of control over who can see them.
Last week, OKCupid launched new features giving its users more control, announcing them in targeted e-mails. In an e-mail that went out to some gay users, for example, the site listed some reasons why, for example, those users may want to hide their OkCupid profile from straight users. "Maybe you're not out to everyone yet," the site offered, "maybe you don't want straight women hitting on you."
Sam Yagan, a spokesperson for OKCupid said the new settings address a lot of issues users have raised over the years. "Something that we have noticed for a while is that there are various people who say part of their apprehension with online dating is that elements of their personal life will be discovered," he said.
In addition to members of the gay community who may want their information hidden from straight users, Yagan offered the examples of teachers wishing to hide their profiles from students or younger women who don't want to deal with advances from older men.
Posting a profile on an online dating site requires a certain comfort level with publicly displaying personal information, but OKCupid has sought to address those privacy concerns by offering this option.
And while the dating site doesn't get any additional advertising or immediate benefit from the move, the increased functionality may help fight the stigma that surrounds online dating, particularly for OKCupid and other free dating sites. While other, paid sites and their pricetags make for a certain degree of self-selection, free sites pull from much a broader range of users, which may not always be a positive thing.
Increasing privacy controls at least gives users a slightly safer, more sophisticated online dating experience. Yagan said that OKCupid has gotten "tremendous feedback"since implementing the feature. "People are grateful," he said.
| January 13, 2011; 1:25 PM ET
Categories: Privacy, Social media
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