MonsterMatch: Dating app game shows how algorithms foster your bias

  • TECH
  • Saturday, 29 Jun 2019

MonsterMatch is a game that matches you with fake dating profiles – monster profiles – and lets you look behind the scenes to see how your choices affect the profiles you are shown. — dpa

Whether you use dating apps or not, this new gamified version of online dating offers an interesting insight into how they work and affect our choices.

MonsterMatch is a game that matches you with fake profiles – monster profiles – and lets you look behind the scenes to see how your choices affect the profiles you are shown. This is not only interesting and fun, but also educates you on personal bias.

Dating apps and social media all use an algorithm called collaborative filtering, which is able to show you things you might like based on data collected from other users.

"Amazon looks up what else tortilla chip buyers have bought: salsa. So it knows 'you might also like' salsa without really understanding anything about the innate relationship between tortilla chips and salsa. The same exact thing is going on with dating, except the thing that's for sale is people," MonsterMatch explains.

This means that dating apps will recommend people to users based on the behaviour of previous users – and this is where our unconscious biases creep in.

It's all about unconscious bias, as explained by the answer to the question "Is there a diversity problem in dating apps?" in the FAQ section of MonsterMatch.

"Yes, by many measures. That's why there are so many segregated dating apps, like JDate for Jewish users and Amo Latino for Latino users. Something about how the apps are designed prevent[s] them from working for a diverse group of people."

By playing around with MonsterMatch – which you can play on your browser – you can learn about how the algorithm learns from you, and what your unconscious bias is telling you to do. All without any of the stakes of "real" dating. – dpa

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