OkCupid has come under pressure in the past week after introducing a new username policy.
The new policy encourages users to put their real name on their profile, with the company stating “OkCupid wants to make the experience more personal. Having a name adds more of a human element versus a ‘username’ “.
The move has raised a number of privacy concerns, with some users expressing their frustration in App Store reviews.
One writes: “Some of us prefer the privacy of individual user names. When it comes to my name I would prefer someone get to know me and simply ask.”
To examine the validity of these concerns, a nextadvisor.com blog post dug into the specifics of the apps new policy.
It notes that the move does not necessarily require users to have their real name on their profile, as mechanically the change only requires a letter-based name rather than a combination of letters and numbers / outside verification.
It also found that the company will not be storing users’ names, reducing the risk of a harmful data breach in the future.
If users do elect to include their full names on profiles then serious risks may present themselves, however.
Combining one’s full name with the sensitive personal information on a profile, such as political leanings, may increase the chances of harassment.
The dangers are particularly acute in situations where sexual orientation may make a user vulnerable to discrimination or law enforcement.
The article notes that this is a common problem across dating sites, and none of the risks are exclusive to OkCupid.
Users wanting to take precautionary action are able to use initials or letter-only nicknames in the field.
The post also advises users to have unique photos on dating sites that cannot be traced back to social media sites using a reverse image search.
Read more here.