Okcupid dating research
Their paper reveals that initially they designed a bot to scrape profile data, but that this first method was dropped because it was “a decidedly non-random approach to find users to scrape because it selected users that were suggested to the profile the bot was using.” This implies that the researchers created an Ok Cupid profile from which to access the data and run the scraping bot.
And it appeared again in 2010, when Pete Warden, a former Apple engineer, exploited a flaw in Facebook’s architecture to amass a database of names, fan pages, and lists of friends for 215 million public Facebook accounts, and announced plans to make his database of over 100 GB of user data publicly available for further academic research.
The final methodology used to access the data is not fully explained in the article, and the question of whether the researchers respected the privacy intentions of 70,000 people who used Ok Cupid remains unanswered.
I contacted Kirkegaard with a set of questions to clarify the methods used to gather this dataset, since internet research ethics is my area of study.
a group of Danish researchers publicly released a dataset of nearly 70,000 users of the online dating site Ok Cupid, including usernames, age, gender, location, what kind of relationship (or sex) they’re interested in, personality traits, and answers to thousands of profiling questions used by the site.
When asked whether the researchers attempted to anonymize the dataset, Aarhus University graduate student Emil O. Kirkegaard, who was lead on the work, replied bluntly: “No.