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Why is it unethical to date a computer?

In this day and age of digital marketing and online dating, there is no way to know who you might meet through a website. Although there is a chance you will meet your soulmate, it might be more likely that a profile you interact with belongs to a company’s computer-generated chatbot, rather than an individual. 

A bot might lure a potential paying member into making a connection through posting an abnormally attractive photo or information about an impressive higher education. And while this alleged match’s conversation may not necessarily make sense, a bot will likely consistently show interest with the intent of getting you to click on an infected link or scam you out of money.

Either scenario can make having an online profile extremely frustrating for singles, but what happens when the company behind a dating app takes advantage of people’s quest to find love? And what does it have to do with business ethics? 

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sues Match Group 

Some of the most popular dating sites face allegations from the FTC for fabricating profiles meant to increase their subscriber base. Reports suggest this is how Tinder, OkCupid and Match.com misled hundreds of thousands of people into paying for their accounts. 

With nominal online dating experience, you likely know not every interaction will lead to a love connection, first date or merely a response. Weeding through your local possibilities is just part of the process. But why does this involve a government agency? 

Consumer protection in marketing 

Just as specific laws exist to provide physical protection, there are laws regarding company advertising practices. When possible, scientific evidence should be the basis for an ad. And in cases where that is not possible, ads must not mislead consumers. 

Therefore, in addition to monitoring business conduct surrounding technology and the web, the FTC oversees truth-in-advertising laws for items which include: 

  • Alcohol 
  • Food 
  • Over-the-counter medications 
  • Dietary supplements 
  • Tobacco 

 

When they determine there is problematic activity taking place, the FTC works to stop fraud, provide compensation for those affected and freeze the assets of those taking advantage of a consumer’s health or money. 

Since the FTC’s actions against Match are recent, it is too soon to tell what kind of settlement the lawsuit will involve, and what that might look like for daters. However, examining your current marketing practices to determine whether they could potentially deceive or mislead your customers may help you stay off the FTC’s radar, while you wait to hear about the result of this case.

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