Online Experimenting: “How Websites Work”

FacebookIt wasn’t long ago that Facebook was left to apologise after an online experiment that involved manipulating user news feeds was criticised for being un-ethical. Despite the negative press Facebook was given, many other websites have stood by Facebook’s actions, and one of these is OkCupid.

In a statement made by an Ok Cupid spokesperson, it was said that Facebook have done exactly the same as what every other website do, as this is “how websites work”. The dating site made a blog post titled “We Experiment On Human Beings” which explained how no website really knows what they are doing when It comes to experimenting and research, admitting most ideas are bad and that even the good ideas aren’t much better. From this, it was concluded that experiments are how you sort your site and future research out.

At any given point on the internet, you are being subjected to hundreds of experiments, all recording your online usage, interests and much more. Many may be shocked at this fact however it is just one of the many uses for cookies on websites, where you behaviour is analysed constantly. OkCupid have posted the results to many of their online experiments, including one that involved removing the profile photos of users. Although this resulted in usage plummeting, it was recorded that conversations between existing users became more personal and in depth than when images were available.

A second example of an experiment performed by OkCupid is where poor matches were told they were good matches, and vice versa. Here they discovered that although a match may have been bad, the users would still get along really well regarding they were told they were compatible, whereas good matches who were told they were incompatible instantly disliked the other user.

No criticism was given to OkCupid after they played with individuals relationships, however Facebook was forced to make an apology after twisting their emotions. OkCupid’s final conclusion was that Facebook’s communication may have been bad, however insisted that without these experiments, websites would be unable to test their upcoming products.

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