Online Invasion: Match.com
The trend of online dating is only going to grow in the next few years, and that's likely good news for singles on the lookout for love. But with the increase in web-based romance comes new privacy concerns, even from some of the top sites that offer such services. While Match.com offers plenty of online dating advice for women and men who use the site, there is at least one feature that had us here at MyAKA concerned.
Shining a Spotlight
When you visit Match.com, you'll see a series of photographs of smiling faces right there on the homepage. You may think that these individuals are paid models, but when you run your mouse over each photo, you'll see that you have the opportunity to "see more like him/her." That's because these people are not professional models but in fact real users of the website. They're featured in what is known as the Member Spotlight, but some of them may not even know they're there.
Here's how the company explains Spotlight on its FAQ page: "Spotlighted members appear on Match.com - International and its partner channels (this can be anywhere on the actual Match.com website or in any section of our partners' websites, including the homepage), increasing your chances of being seen and meeting quality matches!"
Sounds like a great service, until you delve a little deeper.
The Privacy Problem
According to 10BestOnline.com, which did a review of Match.com, new members are placed in the Member Spotlight by default. Default privacy settings have caused a lot of problems for big websites like Facebook and most recently Instagram, and many users prefer "opting out" of certain settings rather than having sketchy privacy policies be the default.
Fortunately you can remove yourself from the Member Spotlight relatively easily through the account page, but users who aren't aware of the policy aren't likely to do so.
Match.com does offer some strong privacy policies. For instance, users can hide their profile or block certain members. However, as explained on the FAQ page for the site, profiles that are in the Spotlight remain there for two weeks, and during that time the profile cannot be hidden. This adds yet another layer onto the privacy issues at Match.com.
The Member Spotlight is yet another example of why it's essential that internet daters thoroughly read all privacy policies and give their personal security settings intense scrutiny the moment they sign up for a website.