In a world where swiping left or right is the main route to love, whose profiles dating apps show you can change the course of your life.
Dutch dating app Breeze recently found itself at a crossroads as users complained about a glaring lack of diversity in their potential matches. The company suspected that individuals with non-Dutch backgrounds or people of colour were leaving the app due to a lack of matches.
Breeze relies on a self-learning algorithm to match users based on a mysterious “matching likelihood”. While the algorithm factors in user-generated profile data and “like” patterns, Breeze claims to not fully know its inner workings.
To ensure diversity in the suggested matches, the company wanted to tweak the algorithm to explicitly raise the chances for people of colour getting matched. However, Breeze first sought approval from the Dutch Institute for Human Rights, fearing this might be a form of preferential treatment based on race. However, the Institute clearly stated that changing the algorithm should be a mandatory measure to prevent indirect discrimination by compensating for disparities.
However, altering the algorithm poses a by now classic challenge. Breeze legally cannot collect data related to ethnicity or skin colour without user’s consent. It falls upon lawmakers and the industry to craft solutions, such as the forthcoming AI Regulation, to address these concerns definitively. In the meantime, continual monitoring to ensure algorithms do not perpetuate discrimination is crucial, and the College commends Breeze’s efforts to lead the way in this regard.
See: Dating-app Breeze mag (en moet) algoritme aanpassen om discriminatie te voorkomen at College voor de Rechten van de Mens.
Image from the Breeze website.