• Cover: November 21, 2014
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How to Outwit Online Dating

Glo's writer looks at the algorithms of matchmaking in the digital age

Page: 2 of 6
  • If online dating looks like a booming business—and it is, with current valuations putting the industry worth at a whopping $4 billion—then the rise of the algorithm knows no end. Algorithms choose whose party pics you see on Facebook. They pick the movies you watch on Netflix, the songs you hear on Pandora, and the books you buy on Amazon. Google's algorithms even watch your search and reading habits, so the articles you see when you look for, say, "value of online dating industry" differ from the ones someone else would see if they completed the same search.

    Increasingly, in fact, you don't need to seek anything out for yourself, because a piece of code studies your preferences, compares them to the preferences of people like you, and tells you other things you'll probably like. And while that might work pretty well for movies and music, romantic prospects seem to present an entirely different case.

    Think about Netflix. When I first convinced my dad to share his password with me, I just wanted to re-watch Mad Men. Now, based on movies I saw through the site, Netflix shows me only "Foreign Dramas Featuring a Strong Female Lead" and "Critically Acclaimed Cerebral Mysteries." I could also like Period Dramas with Loud Political Overtones. Or High-Brow Documentaries That Will Make You Feel Smart. But Netflix doesn't show me those, so I have no idea.

How to Outwit Online Dating
Glo's writer looks at the algorithms of matchmaking in the digital age
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