Online Dating and Racial Discrimination

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Over the recent years, technology has become a central point of everyday life. Within the last fifteen years, internet usage has gone from 400 million people to 3 billion (ICT Facts & Figures). With this mass integration of technology in the human experience, the human connection has also been affected.

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Online dating arose as a way for humans to connect romantically over the internet. Research from the Pew Research Center found that 15% of American adults have utilized an online dating application (Smith 1). An even larger amount, 41%, has reported knowing someone who utilizes online dating (Smith 3). The increasing popularity of online dating has come with both skepticism and credence. The ethicality of the methods to gain long-term relationships over online dating is questionable. The components that arise from online dating are racial discrimination, privacy, and deception.

Racial Discrimination

Racism is a prejudice against a race due to the belief that another (or one’s own) is superior. While research from Philipp Hergovich, with his Ph.D in Economics, and Josué Ortega, a researcher at the Center for European Economic Research, finds that interracial marriages can be increased through online dating (29), racism is still prominent. Data provided by the co-founder of OKCupid, Christian Rudder, shows that Asian men are the most discriminated against (Rudder,“Race and Attraction, 2009–2014.”). When being rated by women, Asian men received the lowest rating, -15% (Rudder,“Race and Attraction, 2009–2014.”). Evidence also shows that Black women are the least preferred. When being rated by men, Black women recieved the lowest rating, -54%. Professors at the Institute for Social Research, Elizabeth Bruch, with her Ph.D in Sociology, and Mark Newman also found that Asian women and White men are the most preferred on online dating applications.

This racial discrimination gives an advantage to White men and Asian women in finding love and the entire process of online dating. Asian men and Black women are at a disadvantage and therefore may have unfair outcomes in relation to White men and Asian women. Online dating applications can also facilitate this. A research team at Cornell University, Javon Hutson, Jessie Taft, Solon Barocas, with his Ph.d in media, culture, and communication, and Karen Levy, a professor of Sociology reports that dating sites utilize “race-based filters and search tools or race-based matching algorithms” (2). These components of online dating allow users to filter out or search for specific races, which completely excludes entire races from potential partners. The excluded races therefore face an inequality that other people such as White men and Asian women do not have to encounter. This inequality may deter users from utilizing online dating for long-term relationships.

Although this racial discrimination is prominent, dating websites have begun to combat this issue.

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