Match Under Fire For Questionable Content Of New Alexa Skill

Match.com
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Alexa can play music, tell you the weather, make phone calls, create to-do lists, read the news, shop for groceries, suggest restaurants, request an Uber, order pizza, tell jokes, translate languages, book vacations, control your smart home, talk to your cats, help prepare dinner, find your lost phone, check if you’ve been hacked, and that barely scratches the surface of the 15,000+ skills now available on Amazon’s virtual assistant.

With so many consumers now relying on these voice-activated devices, dating services are wasting no time in jumping on the trend. eHarmony launched its own Alexa skill last October, while Plenty Of Fish opted to join forces with Google Home instead.

Match is the latest to get in on the game with Match First Date What Ifs, a skill designed to turn Alexa into a digital wingman.

"The first date is exciting, nerve-racking, and full of 'what ifs,'" a Match spokesperson told POPSUGAR. "That's why the new Match skill on Alexa answers all of your 'what ifs' of the first date so you can go in feeling prepared, confident, and ready to dive into your 2018 dating goals."

"The skill's questions and answers touch on everything from 'what if they're a bad kisser' to 'what if they bring up politics,'" the spokesperson continued. "All of the answers are meant to be fun yet helpful and will no doubt help you get the jitters out and feel confident for your date."

The Alexa skill was built using Match’s Singles in America survey, an annual study on the attitudes and behaviours of today’s daters that has polled nearly 35,000 singles over the last seven years. With so much data available, Match seemed uniquely positioned to craft a Q-and-A function that addressed the issues that matter most to singles right now.

Unfortunately, the company appears to have seriously misjudged their approach to the Alexa skill.

Some of the questions Alexa was programmed to answer include: What if they’re way out of my league? What if they have roommates? What if they want to have sex? All reasonable questions for a nervous single to have before the first date, but things take a turn when you hear Alexa’s answers.

To “What if they want to have sex on the first date?”, Match First Date What Ifs could respond with “If you do too, do them. If you don’t, do you.” Another possible answer is “Only if you must, or they’re really hot.”

To the roommates query, Alexa advises "They’re going to hear everything, so make it worthwhile." To the question of being in different leagues, Alexa serves a (sort of) pep talk with a side of sass: “Remember, they picked you. Nobody's perfect.” And when asked “What is the definition of consent?”, Alexa has no answer at all.

Unsurprisingly, many who tested the skill expressed concern over its flippant - sometimes actively insulting or dangerous - answers. As of January 22, it has been pulled from the Alexa Skills Store to “consider improvements,” according to VentureBeat, though we wouldn’t be surprised if the removal turns out to be permanent.