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OkCupid Forcing People To Use Their Real Names - December 22, 2017 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

OkCupid Forcing People To Use Their Real Names

Image: OKCupid, with slight modifications

OkCupid just gave Tinder the best Christmas present ever. In an email that dropped on OkCupid users Friday morning, the dating site announced, “Heads up: We’re replacing usernames with real names.”

“It’s time to go by the perfectly great name you already have,” the email, dated Friday, Dec. 22 at 11:18 a.m. PST, says. “Sad and confused? We get it. Our blog post goes into more details about this change, and also pays tribue to the usernames we’ll miss (doritoprincess2) and the ones we won’t (suuperlonelyman).”

Image: Screenshot of email sent to SF Weekly’s Senior Heteronormative Correspondent’s account

“The ones we won’t”? OkCupid literally added insult to injury (risk), and they misspelled the word “tribute” in an email blast announcing a humongously significant policy change to their entire user base. You’d think an email of this significance might have been proofread?

Let’s go to their terrible blog post, which continues to make fun of individual usernames in an ill-conceived attempt at hipness and irony. “Before the new year, we’re removing OkCupid usernames,” the post says. “It’s starting with a test group and will soon be rolled out to everyone on OkCupid, so all users will need to update their profiles with their real names. We know, this is tough to hear — especially for StayingPawwsitive, Dootdootledootd0 and Britney__Tears. It’s because, like the recent goodbye we said to AIM screen names, it’s time to keep up with the times. We want you, BigDaddyFlash916, to go by who you are, and not be hidden beneath another layer of mystique. Even if that mystique is crucial to you and your dating life, unicorn__jizz.”

OkCupid will only require your first name, not your last name. Of course, Tinder users generally use their real first names as well. But Tinder pulls user data from Facebook, which is a pretty secure “walled garden” of information security, and Facebook pours billions of dollars into securing their data. Standalone dating sites just like OkCupid are much more more easily hacked. Just ask Ashley Madison, which was hacked and had its user information posted publicly in 2015, leading to countless ruined marriages and at least two suicides.

And as user Twitter user @Pollyprime points out, OKCupid’s own safety policy discourages you from disclosing real names up front. “Don’t share your real name, personal phone number, email address, home address, place of work, or any other identifying personal information while messaging until you’ve established a reasonable level of trust with the other person,” the policy says.

You can read that policy for yourself — except that OKCupid now requires you to submit your real name before you can see any content whatsoever on the site.

Not OK, Cupid. Not OK. And if you doubt whether negative user backlash can kill an app, recall the “Yelp for People” app Peeple that got so much negative backlash that their founder didn’t even dare to use the app.