Law in the Internet Society

Love me Tinder - Love under the Algorithm

There are hundreds of them, designed to find your perfect match. With options for women to make the first step (“be the CEO your parents always wanted you to marry”), the preferred same lifestyle (“It’s ok to be a GOAL-digger”), apps that are based on the religion (“Where single Muslims meet”) or on any other preference. It seems, as if there is no niche a dating app wouldn’t cover. As of 2023, 25.7 million Americans use dating apps ( with 10-20 percent of the couples having met over dating platforms ( This evident change of dating behavior in the past 10 years leads to a compelling question: Why are we still single?

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General Functioning of Dating Apps

Most commonly, dating apps work on the precondition of “being single”, and “mutual physical attraction”: Only if both parties express their interest in each other, they “match” and are able to exchange messages. Hereby, the users rely on the algorithm every dating app is based upon: They (generally) work in two ways: potential partners are either suggested based upon the same interests, similar background etc. or based upon their presumed desirability. Users receiving more likes are generally seen as more desirable and consequently suggested to other people who are seen as equally desirable. These approaches are often mixed though it is not transparent who couples are matched with each other.

Critique of Dating Apps

The critique of dating apps is endless and a detailed discussion would be pushing the limits of this essay: They boost the transmission of STDs, are discriminatory regarding the preselection of partners, further eating disorders and anxiety due to the permanent comparison with other, seemingly more suitable partners, enable hook-ups and discourage long lasting relationships due to the apparent infinity supply of opportunities and therefore lead to more frequent breakups, as people tend to be less willing to work on their problems but rather connect with someone else. And while I don’t want to deny any of these critics right any, I would like to point out that (1) there is some scientific data that suggest that couples who have met online are less likely to divorce ( and (2) that relationship values and expectation have drastically changed over the last couple of decades with gender equality defining new role models. Therefore, the observed effects could not only be caused by the phenomenon of dating apps solely, but by general change of society. However, I would like to discuss two paradox aspects of online dating in particular.

Monetization of Love

While most basic functions on dating apps are free, most apps continue to move to fee based offers that enable the user to e.g. match more people, match more desired users or to become a desired user as well by placing them favorably into the algorithm. And while this monetization of love might have some value in areas that are suffering from a strong imbalance of users (e.g. an imbalance of gender), one could highly question the ability to base a relationship on the manipulated algorithm. If we assume that a match is based on preferred features such as looks, age, academic achievements, astrological signs etc., then the probability of a real exchange or date drastically increases if the users are not necessarily matched to what they truly desire. So the purchase of such premium features is per se questionable, not being mentioned that the monetization and following manipulation of feelings such as love deem to be very unromantic. But they might also constitute a vicious circle: why would a dating app dare to lose its best, because paying, customers? Therefore, the providers have to develop a mechanism that keeps paying users interested in the app by preventing them from either finding a long-term partner (and hence deleting the app) or from being frustrated by the ill success of finding a partner and therefore deleting the app. So, it must rely on an algorithm that creates a push and pull mechanism, giving the user just enough positive outcome to keep them on the app but not enough to make them delete it.

Keeping the Fish in the Pool

These considerations must not only be applied to paying users but also to users who only subscribe to the free of charge subscription. Because firstly, those apps finance themselves over advertisement. More users equal higher paying clients. Secondly, in order to attract new users, the already existing pool of users must remain big enough as more potential partners promise a higher probability of finding the seemingly perfect match. Therefore, it is necessary to create the push and pull mechanism despite the claim that the app is “made to be deleted” (Hinge).


All these arguments are compelling against dating apps. Still, they count millions o users: how does this “match” the disadvantages? One explanation could be that the pool of possibilities is what keeps the users drawn to these services. Secondly, most apps are radio based, ensuring that the potential love interest is nearby. And thirdly, due to the diversity and specialization of dating apps, he advantages of joining a club, meeting at a place of worship or meeting each other at a work event: similar interests are retained as the same faith or the same professional passion can create a common ground. But dating apps have, in my opinion, one especially strong drawing factor: The fear of being rejected is lower, as no face-to-face interaction happens until a match is achieved. The anxiety whether one is liked back (hence validated) is just not as high since a conversation does not begin until the validation based upon looks (“match”) is achieved. The last drawing factor could be recreated with online spaces that resemble newspaper announces, online forums where users post a search with the information they are willing to submit into the public and give interested others the opportunity to reach out to them.

Yes, the anxiety caused by "rejection" is transferred to the machine, which is what we mean by "convenience" in the context of the Parasite With the Mind of God. Darwin's most basic point in The Descent of Man (that human development is driven primarily by female sexual selection) has many consequences for a lawyer's understanding of human behavior. This, as you see, is the Parasite's primary way of interacting with human natural selection. As usual, technology built primarily y males to address their discomfort with "rejection" is not necessarily optimal for the species and is far from optimal for women's freedom. No doubt there are many ways you could take your draft further. But it certainly has been good learning for you, so well done.

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r4 - 02 Apr 2024 - 13:10:40 - EbenMoglen
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