OkCupid was probably one of the first official (and free) dating sites people dipped a toe in back before it was considered normal to marry someone you met on an app. Unlike Tinder or Bumble, it’s easy to sign up with a username reflective of your inner self, but more importantly, a name that doesn’t make it easy for people to find you IRL. Well, OkCupid is done with that.
In a blog post titled “An Open Letter on Why We’re Removing Usernames, Addressed to the Worst Ones We’ve Ever Seen,” OkCupid announced that they would soon be removing members handles and forcing them to use their real names. It will start with a test group, but will soon be obligatory for everyone:
We know, this is tough to hear — especially for StayingPawwsitive, Dootdootledootd0 and Britney__Tears. It’s because, like the recent goodbye we said to AIM screen names, it’s time to keep up with the times. We want you, BigDaddyFlash916, to go by who you are, and not be hidden beneath another layer of mystique. Even if that mystique is crucial to you and your dating life, unicorn__jizz.
OkCupid is framing the change as sad, because people don’t want to give up the names they’ve grown attached to while trying to get laid, writing that they understand a username is a “great way to show off who you are.” It is sad! I want very much to share my OkCupid username here, but I’m afraid I’ll get asked out on too many dates. Here’s a hint: it’s a pun.
However, framing the change as a cutesy-poo “we’re sawwy, not sawwy” bye-bye to the past is seriously pissing people off. Though other apps have normalized having your legal name and a connection to your Facebook page for any prospective partner to stalk you with, many people use OkCupid because it offers a certain level of anonymity.
Comments on the post are almost entirely from people who believe the change disregards the safety of kinky people, queer people, trans people, cis women, and basically anyone else who doesn’t want to be too easily accessible to creeps when they’re testing the waters of love. Like this popular comment from user Li Poltarak:
Every queer, kinky, or non-monogamous person who is closeted in any part of their life will have to close their accounts too. You’re going to lose trans people who haven’t changed their names yet, people who don’t want their parents to be able to search for them on a dating site, people who don’t want potential employers to be able to search for them on a dating site…
Or this from user R’kun Hso:
And I’ll echo the sentiment of every other person here- in one fell swoop you’ve made your site 100% less safe for the vast majority of your users. So many of the people here utilize your site as a means of interacting with people *BEFORE* introducing yourself to them. By putting their first name out there, you’re forcing people to have a level of familiarity and lack of privacy which will only drive them away from your site.
Or as commenter Curious One simply asks, “Why would you risk losing most of your female users by making them less safe?”
OkCupid is likely trying to be more competitive with other apps, having adopted swiping left and right some time ago. Will that mean eradicating longer profiles, with bloated Summaries and the dreaded list of Six Things I Could Never Do Without? Maybe. While I never read those sections if I can avoid it, it would be a shame if OkCupid gave up on what makes them different. That’s why users sign up under their ridiculous names—and that’s why they’ll be leaving.