OkCupid Doesn't Mind Bringing Politics Into Dating

September 25, 2018

By Carlo Versano

The old norms of social etiquette ー don't discuss politics or hot-button issues at the dinner table ー may be a thing of the past. And online dating site OKCupid is, in fact, putting those topics front and center.

About a year ago, when allegations of sexual misconduct by powerful men began circulating in the news almost daily, executives had what might seem like a novel idea. They added a new question to the company's membership survey: "Would you date someone who did not support the #MeToo movement?"

According to the company's chief marketing officer Melissa Hobley, nearly 80 percent of female respondents said lack of support was a "deal breaker." About 50 percent of men agreed.

The question is part of a long list OKCupid uses to distinguish itself from online dating services like Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble, designed to help users find better, more accurate matches. The questions range from the innocuous ("Do you generally smile at little kids who cross your path?"), to the silly ("What superpower would you like to have?"), to the substantive ("Are you happy with your life?").

The questionnaire is optional, but about half a million daters voluntarily chose to address #MeToo, and 37 percent said it was an "important" issue, Hobley said.

How much their answers to this specific question affected who they were ultimately matched with ー or whether they contributed to a lasting relationship ー is so far unknown, but the numbers certainly suggest that charged issues in the zeitgeist may affect who we choose to date.

Digging a little deeper is an approach that Hobley said goes "beyond the selfie" ー a bit of a dig at her competitors. Tinder, Hinge, and OKCupid are owned by the same parent company, Match Group ($MTCH).

Since 2015, Hobley said OKCupid has seen a 1,000 percent increase in the use of political buzzwords in people's profiles, seeming to confirm its view that the #MeToo question would resonate with daters.

"We knew it would help connect people," she said. "Your dating app shouldn't be disconnected from what's going on in the world."

For full interview click here.