THE GLOBE AND MAIL - Feb 23 - Racial filtering is alive and well on mainstream dating and hookup sites, which give users the option of checking ethnic preferences alongside ideal body types and social habits like smoking and drinking. While most critics agree that the ethnicity checkbox is vastly preferable to specifying 'No Asians,' they disagree about whether the option is a step backward. Is it any different than hunting through niche sites like Shaadi or JDate? Grindr acknowledged that users can list race in their preferences, but can be banned for posting material "perceived to incite racism". "We also encourage our users to state what they are looking for as opposed to what they are not looking for." A dating poll of 2K Lavalife users found that 74% of women surveyed said ethnicity affected their dating decisions, compared with 49% of men. "Men are more open to meeting people from different communities. They tend to concentrate on physical aspects whereas women are much more interested in lifestyle and background," said Justin Parfitt, CEO of speed-dating company FastLife International. "People should be free to have sex or not have sex with anyone they want", argued Harry Reis, a psychology professor at the University of Rochester who co-authored a review of 400 studies on online dating. "In my estimation, it is fine (although self-limiting) to be racist with regard to sexual preferences", he said. "Throw out the checklist," Mr. Parfitt advises. "What you think you want and where you end up finding chemistry are often two very different things."
by Zosia Bielski
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