A new study from Cornell University suggests that dating application developers should remove in-app “filters” that weed out undesirable mates in order to limit sexism, racism, and other discrimination on dating platforms.
Dating apps, the professors say, reinforce pre-existing biases by allowing users to scan the networks for people who fall into their preferred gender and who have similar qualities in terms of race, political ideology, socio-economic status, and education level.
These “racist” algorithms, which allow users to search based on personal preference, destroy “serendipity” and should be banned.
“Serendipity is lost when people are able to filter other people out,” the papers lead author said in an interview, according to the Daily Mail. “Dating platforms have the opportunity to disrupt particular social structures, but you lose those benefits when you have design features that allow you to remove people who are different than you.”
Part of the problem, the researchers indicate, are changing notions of sex and gender; apps that allow users to make specific selections could discriminate against the disabled or “transgender” individuals.
There are things developers can do to avoid reinforcing established biases, the researchers suggest: use other classification systems to sort dating app users. For instance, a Japanese gay dating program allows users to create “monsters” by selecting from a buffet of monster physical features keyed to personality traits. By assessing these “monsters,” the app hooks users up with people they might not have otherwise considered.
People could also just … meet other people. But that probably won’t fulfill SJW objectives.