On the Internet of Women with Moira Weigel

“Feminism,” the writer and editor Marie Shear famously said in an often-misattributed quote, “is the radical notion that women are people.” The genius of this line, of course, is that it appears to be entirely non-controversial, which reminds us all the more effectively of the past century of fierce debates surrounding women’s equality.

And what about in tech ethics? It would seem equally non-controversial that ethical tech is supposed to be good for “people,” but is the broader tech world and its culture good for the majority of humans who happen to be women? And to the extent it isn’t, what does that say about any of us, and about all of our technology?

I’ve known, since I began planning this TechCrunch series exploring the ethics of tech, that it would need to thoroughly cover issues of gender. Because as we enter an age of AI, with machines learning to be ever more like us, what could be more critical than addressing the issues of sex and sexism often at the heart of the hardest conflicts in human history thus far?

Meanwhile, several months before I began envisioning this series I stumbled across the fourth issue of a new magazine called Logic, a journal on technology, ethics, and culture. Logic publishes primarily on paper — yes, the actual, physical stuff, and a satisfyingly meaty stock of it, at that.

In it, I found a brief essay, “The Internet of Women,” that is a must-read, an instant classic in tech ethics. The piece is by Moira Weigel, one of Logic’s founders and currently a member of Harvard University’s “Society of Fellows” — one of the world’s most elite societies of young academics.

A fast-talking 30-something Brooklynite with a Ph.D. from Yale, Weigel’s work combines her interest in sex, gender, and feminism, with a critical and witty analysis of our technology culture.

In this first of a two-part interview, I speak with Moira in depth about some of the issues she covers in her essay and beyond: #MeToo; the internet as a “feminizing” influence on culture; digital media ethics around sexism; and women in political and tech leadership.

Greg E.: How would you summarize the piece in a sentence or so?

Moira W.: It’s an idiosyncratic piece with a couple of different layers. But if I had to summarize it in just a sentence or two I’d say that it’s taking a closer look at the role that platforms like Facebook and Twitter have played in the so-called “#MeToo moment.”

In late 2017 and early 2018, I became interested in the tensions that the moment was exposing between digital media and so-called “legacy media” — print newspapers and magazines like The New York Times and Harper’s and The Atlantic. Digital media were making it possible to see structural sexism in new ways, and for voices and stories to be heard that would have gotten buried, previously.

A lot of the conversation unfolding in legacy media seemed to concern who was allowed to say what where. For me, this subtext was important: The #MeToo moment was not just about the sexualized abuse of power but also about who had authority to talk about what in public — or the semi-public spaces of the Internet.

At the same time, it seemed to me that the ongoing collapse of print media as an industry, and really what people sometimes call the “feminization” of work in general, was an important part of the context.

When people talk about jobs getting “feminized” they can mean many things — jobs becoming lower paid, lower status, flexible or precarious, demanding more emotional management and the cultivation of an “image,” blurring the boundary between “work” and “life.”

The increasing instability or insecurity of media workplaces only make women more vulnerable to the kinds of sexualized abuses of power the #MeToo hashtag was being used to talk about.

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Match Group restructures exec team with focus on Asia

Tinder parent company Match Group, also the owner of a suite of dating apps including OkCupid, Meetic, Match, PlentyofFish and others, announced this morning plans to restructure its leadership team in order to better focus on the market opportunities for dating apps in Asia. Specifically, the company has appointed three new general managers in Asia to focus on areas like Japan, Taiwan, India, South Korea and other parts of Southeast Asia.

The company explains its decision has to do with the potential it sees for growth outside the U.S. and Europe, where there are more than 400 million singles, two-thirds who have not yet tried a dating app.

One of the new GMs is Tokyo-based Junya Ishibashi, who has been CEO of Match Group’s Eureka business in Japan. He now becomes the general manager of Match Group for Japan and Taiwan.

Taru Kapoor, who’s based in Delhi, will be GM of Match Group India. And Seoul-based Lyla Seo, who previously served as regional director of East Asia for Tinder, is now GM of Match Group for South Korea and Southeast Asia.

Meanwhile, Alexandre Lubot, who has served as both CEO of Meetic and CEO of Match Group EMEA & APAC since 2016, will remain CEO of Match Group EMEA & APAC. He will oversee the brands across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, with the three general managers reporting directly to him.

Meetic, which is Match Group’s European dating app, will now be overseen by Matthieu Jacquier, who has worked as a CPO with the company for a year. Alongside Jacquier, Elisabeth Peyraube will now take on a new role of COO & CFO of Match Group EMEA & APAC.

While Match Group plans for growth across Asia, India has been of particular importance, especially as rival dating app Bumble entered the country last year, where it tapped actress, celebrity and Bumble investor Priyanka Chopra to advise its expansion.

Tinder has also tried to cater to its Indian users with the more recent launches of expanded gender options in its app, and the Bumble-like “My Move” feature, which allows the women to chat first.

However, Tinder’s strategy in India needs to differ from here in the U.S. where it’s now promoting the young, carefree and often less relationship-focused “single lifestyle.” In India (as well as in China and other markets), dating apps today still face challenges due to cultural norms. That’s led to an unbalanced ratio between men and women using the apps in India, a report from The Wall Street Journal found. And when women join, they’re overwhelmed by the attention they receive, as a result.

These issues will require Tinder to adapt everything from its marketing and advertising messages to even its product features in order to better cater to its Indian users. And it requires someone who fully understands the market to lead.

“Taru was originally hired to grow Tinder in India, but a little more than a year ago we increased her responsibilities to oversee the growth of other Match Group products in the country,” said Mandy Ginsberg, Match Group CEO, in a statement about the leadership restructuring. “During that time Tinder has become a big brand in India, but Taru also has meaningfully grown OkCupid’s user base in India over the last six months due to her keen understanding of the market and culture. Her success is a template for how we can approach these emerging Asian markets, particularly when we have stellar talent on the ground that understands the cultural, regulatory and market dynamics at play,” she added.

In Korea, Match Group credits Seo with executing Tinder’s first-ever TV ad campaign, which helped increase downloads in Korea 2.5x from 2016 to 2018.

The company also says Ishibashi more than doubled Pairs’ revenue in Japan since its acquisition in 2015.

Both executives will oversee other Match Group brands in their respective markets as part of their new responsibilities.

Match Group has been growing its footprint in the Asian market for some time. On its Q4 2018 earnings call in February, the company noted it already had teams in around half a dozen key countries throughout Asia focused on its marketing programs and developing the cultural insight it needed to succeed in those regions.

Ginsberg now says she would like to see a quarter of Match Group’s revenue coming from Asia within five years.

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Users complain of account hacks, but OkCupid denies a data breach

It’s bad enough that dating sites are a pit of exaggerations and inevitable disappointment, they’re also a hot target for hackers.

Dating sites aren’t considered the goldmine of personal information like banks or hospitals, but they’re still an intimate part of millions of people’s lives and have long been in the sights of hackers. If the hackers aren’t hitting the back-end database like with the AdultFriendFinder, Ashley Madison, and Zoosk breaches, the hackers are trying break in through the front door with leaked or guessed passwords.

That’s what appears to be happening with some OkCupid accounts.

A reader contacted TechCrunch after his account was hacked. The reader, who did not want to be named, said the hacker broke in and changed his password, locking him out of his account. Worse, they changed his email address on file, preventing him from resetting his password.

OkCupid didn’t send an email to confirm the address change — it just blindly accepted the change.

“Unfortunately, we’re not able to provide any details about accounts not connected to your email address,” said OkCupid’s customer service in response to his complaint, which he forwarded to TechCrunch. Then, the hacker started harassing him strange text messages from his phone number that was lifted from one of his private messages.

It wasn’t an isolated case. We found several cases of people saying their OkCupid account had been hacked.

Another user we spoke to eventually got his account back. “It was quite the battle,” he said. “It was two days of constant damage control until [OkCupid] finally reset the password for me.”

Other users we spoke to had better luck than others in getting their accounts back. One person didn’t bother, he said. Even disabled accounts can be re-enabled if a hacker logs in, some users found.

But several users couldn’t explain how their passwords — unique to OkCupid and not used on any other app or site — were inexplicably obtained.

“There has been no security breach at OkCupid,” said Natalie Sawyer, a spokesperson for OkCupid. “All websites constantly experience account takeover attempts. There has been no increase in account takeovers on OkCupid.”

Even on OkCupid’s own support pages, the company says that account takeovers often happen because someone has an account owner’s login information. “If you use the same password on several different sites or services, then your accounts on all of them have the potential to be taken over if one site has a security breach,” says the support page.

That’s describes credential stuffing, a technique of running a vast lists of usernames and passwords against a website to see if a combination lets the hacker in. The easiest, most effective way against credential stuffing is for the user to use a unique password on each site. For companies like OkCupid, the other effective blocker is by allowing users to switch on two-factor authentication.

When asked how OkCupid plans to prevent account hacks in the future, the spokesperson said the company had “no further comment.”

In fact, when we checked, OkCupid was just one of many major dating sites — like Match, PlentyOfFish, Zoosk, Badoo, JDate, and eHarmony — that didn’t use two-factor authentication at all.

As if dating wasn’t tough enough at the best of times, now you have to defend yourself from hackers, too.

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I don't miss being single, but I do miss swiping

A nice swipe before bed soothes the soul.
A nice swipe before bed soothes the soul.
Image: Bob Al-Greene / Mashable

In our Love App-tually series, Mashable shines a light into the foggy world of online dating. Just in time for cuffing season.


There was a time in my life when I wanted nothing more than to get off dating apps. 

Back when I was in my twenties, I thought that dating apps were the end of our culture and the precipitating factor behind all my pain. Too sad to get up in the morning? It’s probably because XxGothGirlxX never responded to my very funny OkCupid message that referenced Foxfire (seriously, who else could she find who knew that movie?). Too anxious to eat? Well, that’s because I wasn’t getting enough Tinder matches. Everyone on there was clearly threatened by my extraordinarily clever bio.

The truth was that dating apps could make me sad, but they could also provide intense, immensely satisfying bursts of narcissistic pleasure. 

Some part of me will always long for my swiping days of yore.

To be clear (especially to my girlfriend who is probably reading this post right now), I don’t long for being single at all. There are people who are perfectly happy living life without a partner and that’s wonderful. I, however, am not one of them.

I don’t miss the days of microwaving Morningstar Farms chicken nuggets, now that I come home to a partner who cares about her lifespan and making food that’s actually supposed to go in your body. I don’t ever want to go on a date again with someone obsessed with reading me sections from her  dissertation on queer performance theory and Weimar Republic clown art. I want to go home to my  partner who … doesn’t do that.

[Trigger warning for extreme cheesiness] I’m in a happy, loving relationship, and I’m not interested in turning back the clock.

Here’s what I do miss about dating apps:

1. It was a place to feel superior

I wasn’t the hottest ticket on OkCupid by a long shot. What I was, however, was a snob. I felt such a gross tug of superiority when I saw people list Fight Club as their favorite book or listed traveling as one of their favorite hobbies in their Tinder bio. Never mind that I actually liked both of those things — I would never dare to be that unoriginal and write them down in my profile. 

I’m not proud of this particular part of my history, but I’m not going to deny that this feeling once existed.

2. There was something to swipe on when I was bored waiting for the train

We all need activities to satisfy our minuscule attention spans. Reading is great. Swiping? Even better. I once loved the feeling of euphoria I got from making a match, even if I didn’t like the person on the other end. 

Nowadays, I’m forced to go on Twitter to keep my brain engaged. Compared to Tinder and OkCupid, it’s a devastatingly depressing platform. I’d much rather be turned down by a bunch of self-professed Slytherins on Tinder than read about Sen. Lindsey Graham’s latest emotional outburst.

3. I had a home for my hottest selfies

Every once in a while, I’ll get a haircut that I think looks good, and I’ll want to post it somewhere. My girlfriend, who is a better person than me, is automatically supportive. I feel awkward about posting a sexy selfie on Instagram, where old coworkers follow me. Does my old boss who I worked with in foster care really want to see me making duck lips? She does not.

To get my full high, I need the affirmation of strangers. If I was on Tinder, I’d have the space to indulge my crudest, most narcissistic impulses.

4. It was a place to get style inspo

Without the internet, I’d probably dress entirely out of the L.L. Bean catalogue. Nothing makes me happier than a well-crafted New England loafer. 

As a queer person, Tinder is where I used to go for sartorial inspiration. There aren’t that many style blogs out there for gender non-conforming folks, so the best way to search out queer style is by scrolling through queer people on dating apps. 

Tinder is the reason I have a floral bomber jacket today. For that, I am grateful.

5. It forced me to write funny jokes

Some of my best comedic material is in my 2009 OkCupid profile. Before I was able to write for the internet, I wrote for an audience of potential girlfriends on OkCupid. Folks, I killed it — at least with my *sassy* copy.

Nowadays, most of my writing on social media is limited to calling people fascists or using the vomit emoji to describe the subway system. 

OkCupid and Tinder held me to a higher editorial standard than Twitter. 

6. I got a lot of great recommendations

My music taste is mostly limited to music you’ll find on Now That’s What I Call Music. Thanks to OkCupid, I was able to browse the music interests of people who were far cooler than me. Love my Apple Music playlists? You can thank the OkCupid community of 2005. 

The same goes for film and television. Before OkCupid, I was watching the same episodes of The L Word over and over again. Now I have an expanded range of crap I watch on the reg.

7. Tinder and OkCupid brought me community

I’m ashamed to admit this, but online dating gave me most of my current network of friends. It can be hard to find friends in the queer community, which, statistically, is much smaller than the straight population. Often on Tinder or OkCupid, I’d find people just looking for friends, and I’d go out and befriend them (assuming we were compatible/they weren’t too serious about astrology).

People I once dated became close friends. Heck, people I met for half a beer became best friends. 

For all of the despair dating apps gave me, they still gave me this. 

Listen — assuming my girlfriend reads this post and doesn’t dump me, I’ll never go back. But I can still manage to be grateful.

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Facebook collects user data from apps like Tinder, OKCupid and others


Thomas Trutschel via Getty Images

A new report from German company Mobilsicher, an outlet dedicated to info on mobile security, has detailed some information about how certain apps share user information with Facebook, BuzzFeed News reports. The group tested the Android version of a number of apps — including Tinder, Grindr, OKCupid, health-related apps like Pregnancy+ and MigraineBuddy as well as religion-focused apps such as Bible+ and Muslim Pro, among others — and it found that personal information was being collected from those apps via Facebook’s SDK. That information could include IP addresses, the app in use, the type of device and users’ unique Advertising IDs, info that’s transferred as soon as a user opens the app.

Facebook’s SDK allows developers to access Facebook Analytics and let their users log in with their Facebook credentials, and Facebook says in its policies that it can collect information through third-party apps that use its SDKs and APIs. Mobilsicher says at least some developers were under the impression that the information Facebook was collecting was anonymized, but even though users’ names aren’t attached to the data, the use of their Advertising IDs largely renders that a moot point. Mobilsicher says that as long as you’ve logged into Facebook on your mobile device at least once — whether that be via a browser or through the Facebook app — Facebook can link your Advertising ID to your profile.

The findings follow a recent New York Times report that detailed how extensively Facebook shared user data with companies like Apple, Netflix and Spotify, and it’s sure to add to the privacy concerns that Facebook has repeatedly stoked over the past year. Facebook’s many 2018 privacy infractions include the Cambridge Analytica scandal, a security bug that affected millions of users and a Photo API bug that gave third-party apps access to Facebook users’ unposted photos. While maybe not as egregious as some of Facebook’s other issues, Mobilsicher’s findings highlight, yet again, just how little control users have over their information and what Facebook does with it.

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