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OkCupid Experiment May Violate FTC Rules on Deceptive Practices

OkCupid’s disclosure that the popular dating website intentionally misled couples about their suitability could open it up to a U.S. Federal Trade Commission inquiry, according to lawyers and experts in consumer-protection law. On Monday, President Christian Rudder disclosed in a blog post that OkCupid had conducted experiments on its users, including a test to see whether its assessment of their matchability led to successful dating. "To test this, we took pairs of bad matches ... and told them they were exceptionally good for each other," Rudder wrote. "When we tell people they are a good match, they act as if they are. Even when they should be wrong for each other." OkCupid's actions, at least four legal experts said, appear to be in violation of a provision in the FTC act that prohibits "unfair and deceptive" practices by a company that result in misleading or harming consumers. “When you’re matching people up with individuals who are not good matches, that would certainly be deceptive,” said Jesse Brody of law firm Manatt Phelps & Phillips.

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--- Reuters