OkCupid Under Fire For Plan To Enforce Real-name Rules
OKCupid recently released an open letter announcing that the company will begin rigorously enforcing rules that require users to use their real names before year’s end. The company’s letter says, “We want you, BigDaddyFlash916, to go by who you are, and not be hidden beneath another layer of mystique.” A test group of OKC members have already had to change their names, and all users will have to by the end of 2017.
The feature will only display first names and the only requirements are a two-letter minimum without numbers, symbols, or emojis. OkCupid says, “It’s important to note that it doesn’t necessarily have to be your legal first name, it can be whatever nickname you would like your dates to call you.” The company also said that no outside-service verification will be used to confirm that the name matches an actual identity. There’s no linking-to-Facebook required, like some of the other dating apps available.
Critics say that the company’s plan doesn’t address to possible privacy ramifications of users having to use their real names. They say that Internet anonymity is valuable, as legitimate online speech could trigger real-life retaliation. We have all seen in recent years as people’s activity online has led to harassment campaigns and even the loss of their jobs. There is also the ramifications of real dating data in hackers’ hands, like the devastation wrought by the explosive Ashley Madison leak in 2015.
OkCupid’s statement says, “We take privacy at OkCupid very seriously…We also are not collecting or encouraging full names – we want users to share how they like to be called which can be your first name or your nickname, or whatever you are comfortable with. We encourage users who do not feel comfortable to instead use a nickname or their initials.”
In recent years, a number of companies have started preventing customers from publicly identifying themselves with pseudonyms, mandating they use real names. Facebook’s policy change was one of the most prominent, leading to lawsuits in European courts that Facebook eventually won. Google’s efforts to make users attach real-name information to Google+ accounts was eventually ended due to user criticism.
OkCupid has made a number of major changes to the dating app in recent months. Earlier this year, the company removed an opt-in feature that showed users who had viewed their dating profile along with the time it was viewed. Last month, OkCupid changed its messaging system to prevent users from seeing if they’ve received an unsolicited message unless they “like” the message-sender’s dating profile.