Some of you may have seen this tweet from me on August 30th:
OkCupid, the self-proclaimed “best dating site on Earth”, is a mostly free dating site that, while completely legitimate for people who are seriously interested in dating, is also filled with people looking for threesomes, married browsers looking for sex on the side, or, occasionally, Nigerian princes who want to give you money. I had a profile on there at one point and ended up going out with a few people as a result of it. As far as free dating sites go, OkCupid made me pretty happy, until August 30th.
On the morning of August 30th, I awoke to several emails from OkCupid, all sent to the email address I have associated with this site (my first name at my last name dot com). The first email, sent at 12:55 AM, welcomed me to OkCupid and thanked me for creating an OkCupid dating profile. Needless to say, I was a bit alarmed, since unless I was sleep dating, there was no way for me to have created any type of profile at 12:55 AM that night. And I most likely wouldn’t have chosen this username, either:
I clicked the “Sign in Now” button, which allowed me to sign in to OkCupid without entering any password whatsoever. Apparently, the link in this email could be forwarded to anyone, and they would be able to sign in. I viewed my OkCupid profile that I had apparently created at 12:55 AM, and this is what I saw (click the thumbnail to view the full version):
My first inclination was annoyance, followed by disappointment. I get emails constantly from people who just have an overreaching need to tell me that I am absolutely not funny and then they present a treatise supporting their viewpoint. While I’m usually flattered that someone would be so obsessed with my unfunniness that they would do nothing but think about me all the time, I usually just feel pity. Is this the best that they could do? I expect more from my stalkers.
The malicious intent behind this fake OkCupid profile, however, was palpable, as evidenced from the following lines:
“I’m not looking for love, just someone to live out my rape fantasies.”
“I really am a freak. I hope that’s okay with you.”
Those two on their own are a little disturbing, but pale compare to what was provided for the answer to “You should message me if . . .”
“You’re just looking for something physical and happen to be close by. I’m looking for someone to fulfill my rape fantasy. I want an aggressive man to just break into my house and go at it. . . Address is: 407 Silver Oak Ln; Altamonte Springs, FL 32701”
That’s my real address. Unlike my previous address, which I posted publicly as part of my Halloween party invitation, this one was not public. If you were a friend on Facebook, it was available to you, but that’s it. It’s public now, though, thanks to OkCupid.
Someone put my real address, with my photo, in a dating profile on OkCupid, using my real email address, and invited people to come rape me. Oh, and they actually sent out messages to 24 different men as well:
Realistically, I’m not worried in any way about someone breaking into my home to rape me. But what if this was done to someone other than me? What if someone had done this exact same thing to a female friend? To your sister? To your wife or mother?
I contacted OkCupid twice through their contact form, asking for the IP address of the person who created this fake profile, and requesting someone from OkCupid to contact me immediately. That was a week ago.
I sent out the tweet mentioned above, asking OkCupid how it’s possible that they have it set up so that anyone can make a profile for an email address WITHOUT VERIFICATION! (Go ahead, try it. I made a test OkCupid profile using a throwaway email account I had, and other than confirming my email address on the form, there was no verification required.) That tweet was re-tweeted 40-50 times at least.
I have gotten no reply from OkCupid. Not an apology, not even an acknowledgment. Not a word.
OkCupid, I expect a response. I want the IP address of the person who did this. I would also like to know why you can create profiles without email verification, why you allow profiles to be published sharing private information such as someone’s address without any oversight, and what part of your business plan supports rape. I’m pretty sure that I have an extremely actionable case right here, and unless I get a response that I consider, at my own discretion, to be acceptable, this could get extremely ugly. Ball’s in your court.
If you’re NOT from OkCupid and you’re reading this post, please share it. Stumble it, post it on Twitter, mentioning @okcupid (or RT this tweet), share it on FB, Digg it. I want this post to catch the eye of the company that has decided that it has no problem with what transpired on August 30th.
Edited (9/5/11 9:14 AM EST):
A few points of clarification, based on emails and comments I’ve received:
- Email verification would not have prevented this from happening. I’m fully aware of this, but this is another issue that should be addressed. Would you want someone creating a profile using your email address, even if it gave you control over it? It’s just another invasion of privacy and poor management on the part of OkCupid.
- Every dating site I’ve used over the last two years does a profile check before they allow publishing of information to ensure that private information is not posted. Even if OkCupid set up a good search string through their profiles, they could flag profiles for a human to review.
- Anything that sheds light on issues like this, that could be a serious and legitimate threat to the well-being of someone else, is a good thing. I’m fine, and I’m not worried about getting raped in the middle of the night, but I’m not everyone.
UPDATED: 9/5/11 2:41 PM EST
When I returned from lunch, I had this reply from OkCupid:
My name is Alice, and I’m the customer service rep for OkCupid. I’m so sorry that you have not gotten a reply about your issue before now, and I hope I can help.
First- the account in question, gayasssfuck, was completely removed today, and the IP it was created from has been blocked from OkCupid. We can’t give you the specific IP address, but if you do decide to file a police report, we would be happy to cooperate with law enforcement.
Second- we absolutely do not condone sharing any private information on a profile, including addresses or email addresses. We do remove any profiles that share this information, as well as profiles that are obviously fakes as this one was, especially when they contain references to rape. That is absolutely unacceptable for OkCupid. However, our company is a lot smaller than you may realize, and we do not have the resources to hand-check every profile before it goes live. We rely on a flagging system, where users flag an inappropriate photo or profile, and then it gets reviewed by us for removal. It appears that this profile was not flagged by anyone, and we missed your emails, so it unfortunately flew under our radar. I sincerely apologize for this.
Again, I’m sorry we didn’t catch this sooner, and please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.
I think it would be a safe assumption that the sole reason for this reply, a week after the fact, was the overwhelming response on Twitter and other locations. I’m not sure what my reply will be to this email, yet, because it’s still a poor response that doesn’t really address anything, but I think that filing a police report may be the next step, if only to get the IP address of the person who did it.