Politics and dating
Published: 2:59 PM 08/23/2011
By Emily Esfahani Smith
The Financial Times recently ran a fascinating report about the inner-workings of the successful online dating website Match.com. Like many social networking websites, Match.com is powered by a sophisticated algorithm — or mathematical function — that uses a number of variables to bring people together in the virtual world. In this case, Match.com is bringing single people together for the sake of meeting online and then — if all goes well — dating in the real world.
The algorithm needs data to work. It gets that data from the way users behave on the site. For example, if a female user is browsing the profiles of older men, the algorithm will know that she is interested in older men, and it will filter her search results accordingly.
From data like this, Match.com was able to draw a conclusion about politics and dating. According to Match.com engineer Amarnath Thombre, “Conservatives are far more open to reaching out to someone [on the dating site] with a different point of view than a liberal is.” In other words, conservatives are far more tolerant of dating liberals than liberals are of spending time with conservatives.
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