How Tinder’s AI Micromanages Your Dating Life
There is no doubt that on the whole, the economic impacts from the lockdown and pandemic will be devastating. But while most leisure activities were throttled by the lockdown, others thrived — just ask any of your friends that did Yoga With Adrienne (probably the same mates that brew their own kombucha). Another unlikely winner? Dating apps. Tinder and Bumble usage alone spiked by over 20%, with Tinder registering 3 billion swipes on 28 March alone.
However, the pandemic only accelerated a trend that was already in full force: finding love via apps. “Met online” is now the most common way that people report finding their significant other, streets ahead of boring old classics like “met in church” or “met in the neighbourhood”. While there are a range of massively popular dating apps, including Bumble and Grindr, Tinder continues to be the most popular platform by a significant margin. That gives the company a pretty crazy level of influence over how young people date and, yes, who they match with.
Welcome to your personal ‘desirability’ score
Make no mistake: nothing about the Tinder algorithm is random. When you open the app to get swiping, you might think that the profiles you are seeing are just a random bunch of people that fit your age/gender preferences and live relatively close. Think again. Tinder wants to match as many couples as possible and designs its algorithm to put certain profiles in front of you. Of course, you’re free to swipe right to your heart’s delight and ignore the people Tinder recommends, but the algorithm penalises you for swiping left too much. So how does Tinder decide whose profiles to show you?
A few years ago, Tinder made the mistake of showing a journalist what was actually under the algorithm’s hood — and it wasn’t pretty. As that journalist details, the Tinder algorithm allocates every user a personalised ‘desirability’ score, to represent how much of a catch any particular person is. Users are then sorted into ‘tiers’ based on their desirability score, and that was, in essence, the algorithm: you get presented with people approximately your level of attractiveness when you swipe.