OkCupid Announced A Major Change And People Are NOT Happy About It

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OkCupid is shaking things up again. After announcing on December 11, 2017 that it would be overhauling its messaging system to more closely resemble those of competitors like Tinder and Bumble, the company revealed plans for an even more controversial change: a real name policy that marks the end for traditional usernames.

A December 21 blog post explained the reasoning behind the elimination of usernames. The post describes the (often frivolous) pseudonyms as “a pain to come up with and a pain to remember”, and notes that though they can be “a great way to show off who you are”, users are instead encouraged to “use your profile to give people an insight into your interests.”

The change erases a key difference between OkCupid and many of its rivals, which require users to log in via Facebook in order to display their real names on their profiles. The 13-year-old dating service said “it’s time to keep up with the times.”

But users, many of whom likely also have profiles on apps with Facebook integration, swiftly expressed indignation over the contentious update.

OkCupid’s mobile apps have been flooded with bad reviews in the App Store and Google Play. Some reviewers pointed out concerns for privacy and safety in the face of forced transparency, particularly for trans users and other marginalized groups, while others called the cheeky tone of OkCupid’s announcement “condescending,” “rude,” and “patronizing.”

Users who had recently paid for Premium membership in order to change their usernames also had reason to gripe. Though they shelled out nearly $50 for the privilege of adjusting their sobriquets, the feature is now being handed out for free - and they weren’t offered a refund.

The backlash was swift and fierce, forcing OkCupid to issue a response further illuminating its decision. A statement provided to TechCrunch explained that the change is “part of our mission to add more substance and depth to dating. OkCupid wants to make the experience more personal. Having a name adds more of a human element versus a ‘username’.”

“We don’t have any plans to bring usernames back,” continued the statement. “We know some folks don’t like that usernames are going away but we get many (thousands!) of messages from folks who say they are offended by some of the usernames people make…or they just have a really really hard time coming up with one...”

The statement further clarified exactly what the new policy means. In order to qualify, a name must have two letters minimum, use no numbers or symbols, and incorporate nothing from a list of banned words. It does not need to be an individual’s legal name or even their full first name. Any name, nickname, or initials will do.

While the second statement may provide some relief to users concerned about losing their privacy, we suspect we haven’t seen the last of this controversy. For more on this service you can read our review of OkCupid.