App algorithms rank results so dating opportunities end up being hoarded by the few. One app told me my score
Marks out of 10: how attractive do you think you are? Perhaps you’d describe yourself as a six on a good hair day, or seven when you’ve caught the sun? Attractiveness, after all, is subjective, and can change from day to day. Besides, isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder? But the truth is, if you have ever used an internet dating app, your desirability has been rated. It has to be. User rankings are integral to how most mainstream dating apps, purportedly including Tinder and Bumble, function. So would you want to know how you scored?
Last week, the dating app Once emailed users (including me) to tell them that they can now discover how they have ranked. “To help our matching algorithm, we ask our users to rate each other [sic] pictures,” reads the email. “We have decided to be transparent and release this rating.” It was nearly 4pm and as a long-suffering glutton for pain, I jumped at the chance to ruin my day. I logged in – for the first time in several years – to find out how I ranked based on photos from younger, thinner times in my 20s. I thought I’d be crushed, and readers, I was right.