WIRED - May 25 - Ben Berman thinks there's a problem with the way people date online. The online dating algorithms seem to be trapping users in a cage of their own preferences. So Berman, a game designer in San Fran, decided to build his own dating app - Monster Match. People create a profile, swipe to match with other monsters, and chat to set up dates. As they swipe, the game reveals some of the more insidious consequences of dating app algorithms. The field of choice becomes narrow, and they wind up seeing the same monsters again and again. Monster Match is not really a dating app, but rather a game to show the problem with dating apps. Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble use "collaborative filtering," which generates recommendations based on majority opinion. It's similar to the way Netflix recommends what to watch: partly based on users' personal preferences, and partly based on what's popular with a wide user base. When people first log in, their recommendations are almost entirely dependent on what other users think. Over time, those algorithms reduce human choice and marginalize certain types of profiles. In Berman's creation, if they swipe right on a zombie and left on a vampire, then a new user who also swipes yes on a zombie won't see the vampire in their queue. The monsters demonstrate a harsh reality: dating app users get boxed into narrow assumptions and certain profiles are routinely excluded. While Monster Match is just a game, Berman has a few ideas of how to improve the online and app-based dating experience. "A reset button that erases history with the app would go a long way," he says.
by Arielle Pardes
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