Can researchers unmask the identities of OkCupid users through their usernames, sexual preferences and turn-ons?
Reports indicate that sensitive OkCupid data belonging to almost 70,000 users has been released online by researchers.
According to Motherboard, researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark have released a paper called “The OKCupid dataset: A very large public dataset of dating site users,” which contains information on users including usernames, sexual preferences, orientation and more.
A slice of OkCupid user data is available to the public. You can find some profiles by using a search engine to bring up specific usernames and part of the information the person provided to the dating service.
However, to dig any deeper you must sign up for an account and log in.
Once you have accessed the website, you can also access their age, gender, location, religious affiliations and the answers to any questions — such as turn-ons and how people view dating — the user in question has submitted.
The information was collected through a scraper which targeted random profiles between November 2014 and March 2015. Researchers Emil Kirkegaard and Julius Bjerrekar say it may be possible to ascertain the true identities of the website’s users through analyzing this data.
Arguably, the information is already public — as you can discover the answers by logging in — but some may wonder whether publishing this massive dataset is ethical or, indeed, justifiable.
OkCupid told the publication that the researcher’s actions “violated the company’s terms of service.”
In a tweet, Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) digital humanities specialist Scott Weingart claimed he could use the data to connect the sexual preferences and histories to over 10,000 users of the dating site with 90 percent accuracy.