Tinder Is Judging You, Just like Its Users Are

Tinder logo and profiles February 2016

So, you jump on a Tinder profile, have a good look, scrutinise, and then move on.  This sort of conduct may seem superficial and cold, but it’s decidedly more comforting when coming from a human.  Unbeknownst to the many users who browse Tinder profiles looking for someone special, an algorithm is doing exactly the same thing.

Tinder has revealed that it has a rating system that is based on various factors.  This system essentially lets the site rank its profiles on a scale of desirability.  The score isn’t necessarily based on the same factors that human users might use to determine desirability, but it comes pretty close.  This score is not intended to be shared with the network’s users, but is simply a way for the site to rank and arrange its profiles.

At the heart of it all, it seems slightly sinister.  It’s like high school all over again.  Only this time, instead of normal social interaction distinguishing the beautiful people from the not-so-beautiful people, a machine is doing it.  Yet, Tinder assures all concerned parties that it isn’t trying to separate the hotties from the notties.

Why the Tinder Scoring Metric?

If you take a moment to think about it, it does make sense.  Tinder is a business and, like every other business, it aims to make money through offering a product that its customers appreciate.  It thus uses every possible factor to try to determine what its customers want.

Based on users’ likes and dislikes, the site is aiming to offer them profiles that they will find most desirable first.  This way the site comes off as very impressive and its users remain happy.

Granted, this does make sense.  It’s in any business’s best interest to try to please its customers.  But, how exactly does it do this?

Tinder uses a scoring metric called the ‘Elo Score’, which is the one used in chess.  The game of chess uses it to rank player skill, while Tinder uses it to try to judge how desirable its account users are.  The metric takes several factors into account, which extend beyond the obvious one – attractiveness.  The metric also aims to judge whether someone is desirable based on other people’s tastes regarding tattoos, facial hair, piercings, etc.

Tinder’s CEO, Sean Rad (yes, as far as we know that is his real name), said that the algorithm is intended for far more than superficial purposes.  In fact, it took over two months to design based on how many variables had to be factored into it.

So, is Tinder as bad as a young Mark Zuckerberg designing a program to rank his classmates based on their hotness?  Possibly not, but the jury’s still out.

Image credit: http://www.slashgear.com/tinder-adds-a-super-like-swipe-09403766/