When I logged onto Facebook this morning, my newsfeed was filled with links to blog posts and articles, most of them indignantly screaming that internet dating site OK Cupid had experimented on users without their knowledge.
As someone who once participated as a registered user on the internet dating site (no, I never went on any dates- but that’s another story), I was intrigued. As is my usual Method of Operandi, I chose to first view the original article about which people seemed to be up in arms: A post on OK Cupid’s blog, OK Trends, that hilariously exclaims “We Experiment on Human Beings.” To no one’s surprise, this has instigated a ton of articles- most of them negative. Many of the articles compare the so called “A/B experimentation” by OK Cupid to when Facebook manipulated over half a million reader’s newsfeeds as a psychological experiment, another story which received much backlash from users.
OK Cupid “Experiment” Story
If you actually read the July 28th OK Cupid blog post by Christian Rudder, it’s really funny, tongue-in-cheek and in my own opinion, reveals methodology that was not detrimental to users and results that were hardly earth-shattering. Obviously many do not share my opinion, with the possible exception of Lindsay Cook’s article for US News. But this post is less about the actual experiment and controversy and more about the way the media presents the story – the words and pictures they choose to get you to ‘click’ upon them in your Facebook newsfeed or other social sites.
28 Different Examples
I took it upon myself to take some screen grabs of how newspapers, radio stations, popular sites and blogs are presenting the story today because I found the variations amusing, to say the least. Some are extremely provocative, some misleading and others simply informative. Some defend the experiments but most admonish them. Here’s a look at how the story is being pitched by a random sampling of 28 links from my own Facebook newsfeed (no methodology used), ranging from E!Online to Engadget:
I’m not drawing any conclusions here but merely making an observation I hope you enjoyed as much as I did.