_THE DATING BROKERS (2018)
_The Dating Brokers (2018)
Commissioned by Tactical Tech and with the collaboration of Ramin Soleymani.
In May 2017 Tactical Tech and artist Joana MOLL purchased 1 million online dating profiles for 136€ from USDate, a supposedly US-based company that trades in dating profiles from all over the globe. The batch of dating profiles we purchased included pictures (almost 5 million of them), usernames, e-mail addresses, nationality, gender, age and detailed personal information about all of the people who had created the profiles, such as their sexual orientation, interests, profession, thorough physical characteristics and personality traits. Purchasing this data exposed a vast network of companies that are capitalising on this information without the conscious consent of the users, whom ultimately are the ones being exploited. (An extensive report on the origin of the profiles and the vast network of companies that are capitalising on them can be found here >>)
This project discloses the original dating profile dataset we received from USDate after purchasing it. In order to protect the identities of the people portrayed in the profiles, we've removed and/or obscured any information that could lead to identifyingy a user, such as email accounts, addresses, telephone numbers or names., The rest remains intact. Likewise, we did our best to anonymise the original 5 million profile pictures from the dataset; however, due to technical constraints, some of them might have remained unanonymised. In order to fix this issue we've placed a button on every image in order to allow viewers to report unanonymised profile pictures.
This project attempts to cast light on well established practices in the global online dating ecosystem, which are crucial to its business model but mostly opaque to their users. We believe that such practices raise alarming ethical, moral and legal questions which urgently need to be addressed, as dating profiles contain intimate information on users and the over-exploitation and misuse of this data can have dramatic effects on their lives.
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