‘BIG DATA’ the answer to your love life?

Your job description could be one place to start on Tinder!


The days of being embarrassed about online dating are long gone. It is now a regular occurrence and something people openly talk about in today’s world. Some of this change has been down to how we use the internet and how it is firmly integrated into our lives through work, smartphones & social media. With the growth of online dating platforms comes a growth in the vast collection of profile data. By using our data, these applications are able to provide better matches which lead to more interesting dates and higher chance of compatibility.

So how exactly do dating apps use ‘BIG data’?

1. Multiple data sources:
Many dating apps/sites ask users to fill out questionnaires to gauge user personality and interests as this information is used to generate compatible matches. They then obtain user permission to gather more data through social media platforms, online shopping histories, streaming sites among many others. This is known as ‘collaborative filtering’ as matches users based on factors like the shows they watch & products they buy. E-Harmony uses a proprietary questionnaire with 258 questions which takes approximately 18 hours to complete, contrary to belief this is obviously working as they publicly announced to be responsible for the marriage of 600,000 couples.

2. Deep Learning:
This is probably the creepiest method used by dating & marriage services such as ‘best-matchmaking.com’ & ‘Badoo’ where users are offered the ability to find a partner that resembles another person by analyzing images to identify specific features such as the shape of the nose or colour of the eyes without being mentioned.

3. Analyzing User Behaviour:
This method helps in deciphering what type of partner a particular user is interested in finding. This is done through using the data from the questionnaire, third party data & algorithms to decipher the behavior of the user. This has originated from contradictory user activities where the sort of partner users say they prefer and the sort of profiles they spend most time looking at differs. For example, ‘E-harmony’ uses information such as the frequency of user log ins and amount of time spent on the site to ascertain how serious a user is in finding a partner.

4. Online Dating in Action:
After the user signs for the site/app, data is continuously collected and then analyzed. This data then gets stored in a database and gets linked accordingly with numerous algorithms so the matches are completely automated and provide the best potential matches. This algorithm is unique to each site. One such example is Tinder, with over 50 million users this app is ahead of all the other competition and uses a unique algorithm linked with location, number of mutual friends and common interests and does not use lengthy questionnaires.

Curious about what kind of data Tinder uses from your personal sources? Look no further- https://account.gotinder.com/request-data




Has your Facebook data been leaked?

Like our very own tutor Luke, four out of five Aussies don’t trust FB with their data and they have very good reason not to (Rolfe, 2018). Do you?

Times have changed, there was a time when we used ‘Firewall’ for our digital security but now with the introduction of the ‘Cloud’ and social media platforms, we can never be quite sure about our online data security. This uncertainty does not only affect us individuals, but also companies who have set up their business handles on social platforms. Data frequently travels unprotected through social media channels & considering how much information people over share, social media can put data at serious risk of being leaked. Joseph Steinberg, CEO & founder of SecureMySocial, who created a cloud-based system which alerts users in real time if they are posting something inappropriate, says social media can “Provide hackers with information that greatly assists them in breaching organizations” (Johnson, 2016).

How is data leaked?

‘Personally, Identifiable Information’ (PII) is information which is used to differentiate or trace an individual’s identity either alone or in combination with other public information that is linked to a specific individual. The growth in identity theft, a.k.a, leaked data has given rise to concerns regarding unauthorized disclosure of PII, and who is to blame? Undoubtedly social networks (who are first party servers) who sell user personal information to third-parties (Krishnamurthy & Wills, 2010).

There has been an increase in the use of third party servers who curate content and advertisements for web pages belonging to first-party servers. Some of these third-party servers are aggregators who track and aggregate user viewing habits across different first-party servers often via tracking cookies. Third-party tracking servers are active on a number of popular online social networks and it has been found out that the penetration of the top 10 third-party servers across popular websites has grown from 40% in 2005 to 70% of 2008 (Krishnamurthy & Wills, 2010). We are now in 2018, so one can only imagine the amount of fold increase in these rates.

Facebook’s part when it comes to data leaks is a big one

We all know that Facebook’s core purpose when it started off was to create a platform where people could connect but now, it has ventured into a marketplace for organizations and marketing professionals and also regulators and governments of various nations are using it effectively to their use meaning that there an inclusion of data transfer of billions (Fatima, 2018).

Facebook asks us whether we want to share our information with third party apps that Facebook have tie-ups with and we all oblige. Well, we knowingly or unknowingly put ourselves at great risk.

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In 2010, Facebook announced the launch of a platform called ‘Open Graph’ to third-party apps which allowed external developers to reach out to Facebook users and seek permission to access a large chunk of their personal data and more importantly to access the data from their friend’s list too. This enabled Aleksandr Kogan, a Cambridge academic, to use his app ‘Thisisyourdigitallife’ to collect personal psychological data from millions of Facebook profiles.

In 2015, Cambridge Analytica a London based political & advertisement data analytics consultant helped Ted Cruz in his political campaign using the data of tens of millions of people from Facebook. In response, Facebook after learning about this, ‘sought’ to ban Kogan’s app and asked Kogan and Cambridge Analytica to remove all the data they had unethically acquired (Meredith, 2018). Recently, it was revealed and confirmed that 87 million people out of which 300,000 were Australian users (Bogle, 2018) were affected in this scandal which was used to influence and manipulate the elections.

How is Facebook making up for this?

Well, they can’t ‘make-up’ for this but it sure is a wake-up call for people. Mark Zuckerberg promises increased transparency with regards to apps and what information we share with them but at least for me, Facebook has lost its credibility and I for one will not be giving access to any app.

Now as promised, here is the link where you can check if your account was affected in the scandal: https://www.facebook.com/help/1873665312923476?ref=shareable


Bogle, A. (2018). Facebook privacy breach: How to check right now if Cambridge Analytica got your data. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2018-04-10/facebook-tool-check-if-cambridge-analytica-got-your-data/9639572

Fatima, H. (2018). Facebook’s Data Leak: How It Affects Users. Retrieved from https://blog.resellerclub.com/facebooks-data-leak-how-it-affects-users/

Johnson, C. (2016). How Social Media Jeopardizes Data Security. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/272459

Krishnamurthy, B., & Wills, C. (2010). On the leakage of personally identifiable information via online social networks. ACM SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review40(1), 112.

Meredith, S. (2018). Facebook-Cambridge Analytica: A timeline of the data hijacking scandal. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/10/facebook-cambridge-analytica-a-timeline-of-the-data-hijacking-scandal.html

Rolfe, J. (2018). ‘Phenomenally low’ trust in Facebook among Aussies even before Cambridge Analytica. Retrieved from https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/social/low-level-of-trust-in-facebook-before-cambridge-analytica-scandal-survey-reveals/news-story/883f39687472f951cabfec71c3e64829


WHAT? Ideas have also been fed to us initially through TV & radio, brands would make an impact through catchy jingles and humorous advertisements. But social media changed the game. It took us 1000 years to get comfortable with the idea of taking a picture of our lunch and when we did, it spread like wildfire and now there are millions of pictures circulating all platforms of social media with Instagram at the forefront. Then followed ‘selfies’ which goes to show us that this basically is a cultural evolutional journey and a rapid one at that, in this context.

WHY? Some ideas spread and others don’t. This boils down to the uniqueness of the idea because more than 95% of ideas are ignored by the public for numerous reasons ranging from being too bland to being unpractical. Take the instance of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which broke the internet in 2014, which was done to promote awareness of the ALS disease and went viral as people nominated their friends to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads within 24 hours and the cycle continued; however, if someone failed or forfeited the challenge they had to make a charitable donation as a penalty. Many others including ‘Salt Bae’ sprinkling salt on meat in a unique fashion saw Chef Nusret become a celebrity overnight, allowing him to then charge exuberant prices for his food in his restaurants.


HOW? These ideas either spread organically or they are strategically meant to do so. For example music videos including ‘Gangnam Style’, ‘Hotline Bling’, ‘Party rock anthem’ and most recently ‘Kiki challenge’ all were intended to become popular dance moves thus increasing brand value of these artists.


For simple understanding, there are 5 types of consumers


Unique New Idea Diffusion Strategies Currently Used by Companies

Earlier, companies would target the majority of the population ie, the Early Majority consumers and Late Majority consumers considered as the ‘mass market’. Often ideas would fail and investments would go down the drain but with the help of social media things are rapidly changing. Kickstarter is one example, this company is a global crowdfunding platform for new creative products/ideas who leverage social media to mainly target the innovators & early adopters in a strategy which involves these early users to organically promote the products through word of mouth recommendations to their close networks.

As discussed earlier, a new idea is like a spark but the spark needs to be a considerable one to catch on and spread like wildfire. A few more companies have managed to do this using unique strategies. Wayfair – Is a popular affordable furniture online retailer. Majority of their customers are on Instagram and initially faced a challenge of customers not being able to access their website through Instagram pictures. In 2017, Instagram shopping was introduced which allowed online retailers to tag specific products within a picture and Wayfair cashed in on this and the idea has really kicked on.

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Now that we have seen what ideas are, why they spread and how they gain mainstream popularity, is this dress blue & black or white and gold ? 😉