A Plugin That Searches OkCupid for Sexual Predators

Monday, August 04, 2014 - 10:10 AM

On last week's episode of TLDR, we spoke to OkCupid President and founder Christian Rudder about the company's recent disclosure that it had been running an ethically questionable experiment on its users

In the experiment, the company took users who the site's algorithm found were bad matches (based on a battery of questions users answer) and told them they were actually good matches, and vice versa. In the interview I took issue with this experiment for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is because buried in the list of questions users get on OkCupid is this question: "Do you feel there are any circumstances in which a person is obligated to have sex with you?" I argued that this could lead to unsafe dating situations, to which Rudder replied "I mean there's also a lot of stuff we don't ask, I mean, y'know, so like, we don't know any of our users. Y'know so like we make no claim to the safety for anyone, and obviously we do everything we can to encourage a safe environment. But like, I think it's disingenuous to suggest that we're setting up people in dangerous situations." 

One enterprising hacker named Meitar Moscovitz (AKA Maymay) has developed a plugin to try and detect potentially dangerous situations before they occur.

Maymay's tool, called "Predator Alert for OkCupid," performs a couple of functions. First, it scours a profile's answers to see if they've given an answer that is, as Maymay puts it, "concerning." It also attempts to use facial recognition to scan user profile pictures against the United States Sex Offender Registry. If you're interested in giving it a shot, you can follow instructions on how to install it by following this link.

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Comments [5]

David

I don't see any reason to be looking for sexual predators on OK Cupid. To be honest, I find them totally creepy.

Aug. 05 2014 06:10 PM
Dan from Sicily

Well, it's a start, I suppose.

I found out a week ago that my youngest sister is marrying a sex offender that she met on this site.
After exchanging a few emails with someone from OKCupid, I expect that this isn't an isolated incident. And no, there really isn't shit that they can/will do.
I guess it's a great site... if you've been convicted of aggravated assault, 2 counts of criminal sexual conduct, AND had 4 children removed from your care (on two separate occasions, and all you need to join is a user name and email address. Hell, then it's easy!
Unfortunately my sister is too stupid to believe the police reports that I sent her after I ran a background check on this POS. Instead she chose to believe his "oh, that wasn't me, that was someone else" speech.
Waiting on the FOIA request for court docs right now. Hopefully seeing the details of what this guy did will knock some sense into her head!

Aug. 05 2014 04:23 PM
neil from nyc

This seems really easy to me. If you set your partners desired age to under 21 and you're 10 years older than that, then flag the account.

Aug. 05 2014 03:07 PM
Jeff A from Chicago

Listened to your OKCupid P-cast. If I may speak as a person trained in psychological research, diagnostics and psychotherapy, Mr OKCupid is a sociopath. The answer to his repeated question 'What would you do?' is "oh, the usual social science stuff, recruit participants, assign them randomly to test or control groups, run the experiment, publish the results. You know, that kind of thing" "Oh, and they would sign-off on a detailed informed consent affidavit. You would provide a statement outlining what the experiment was for, what it would consist of, what the participants would have to do. Informed consent is really a thing, with real information regardless of what that creep thinks. Oh, and you wouldn't charge the participant for the service. And you wouldn't provide them with a service diametrically opposite what you are charging for (like matching people up that you know, using your criteria, don't actually match. You guys were way too easy on him but I'll chalk it up to no one one the room having any experience with psychological research. If they want to run statistical analysis on all the info that they gather, so be it. That's much different than 'running an experiment' on people who think they are consuming a service.

Aug. 05 2014 12:12 PM
Dustin

I think the problem with anonymous testing is the subversion of trust between the company and the end-user. The guy on the podcast asked you to give him an idea of how to test their algorithms. That's fine except that is not your job. It is their responsibility. They should pony up the cash like any other industry and do research in the lab. These companies have crazy profit margins compared to almost any other industry. Or, make the experiment region wide with notifications to those affected. Every website may do experiments but that doesn't make it right. Every plantation owner in the south 150 years ago had slaves.

Aug. 04 2014 11:31 AM

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TLDR is a short podcast and blog about the internet by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. You can subscribe to our podcast here. You can follow our blog here. We’re also on Twitter, and we play Team Fortress 2 more or less constantly, so find us there if you like to communicate via computer games from six years ago.

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