Posted on February 24, 2021

Why Your Swipes on Hinge and OKCupid Might Be Racist

Asia Grace, New York Post, February 19, 2021

The authors of a new book are arguing for race-blind dating apps — and the removal of filters for race and ethnicity.

Finding love, they say, isn’t so black-and-white.

In a new book, “The Dating Divide: Race and Desire in the Era of Online Romance,” sociologists Jennifer Lundquist, Celeste Vaughan Curington and Ken Hou-Lin show how online dating sites exacerbate racial divisions.

They found that race-related “preference” filters on digital dating platforms help foster racist attitudes — especially toward black women.

Filtering out people based on race is a normal practice on dating apps,” Lundquist told The Post.

“The idea of having racial preferences is unacceptable and illegal in any other arena,” she added. “But it’s literally built into the structure of these dating apps.”

A 2014 study about dating preferences along racial lines on OKCupid came to a similar conclusion: Black women had a hard time matching on dating apps, as did black and Asian men.

(The 2014 study also found that preferring to date within one’s race was fairly common. For instance, black women preferred to date black men at a rate surpassed only by Asian women’s preference for Asian men.)


The authors found that racial filtering on mating forums exposed black women to more exclusion and rejection than white, Latina and Asian female daters. Black women were the most likely to be excluded from searches, as well as the most likely recipients of offensive messages.

The research trio found that discrimination is laced into the algorithms of mainstream dating apps and websites.

“[It’s] this idea that it’s OK to say, ‘I prefer this race of people, and I don’t like this race of people for my romantic interest,’” Curington explained to The Post.

Hinge, OKCupid, Plenty of Fish and offer race and ethnicity filters, while Tinder and Bumble do not.

While plenty of people have “a type” when it comes to dating, the researchers found that filtering for race also let “people feel free to express their biases and racial misogyny towards women of color in a way they typically wouldn’t in a face-to-face encounter,” Lundquist said.

So, how did users go from being ignored to harassed? One possible explanation: When the average dating-app user doesn’t see black women because of the filters they’ve set, you end up with a higher percentage of users seeking black women as a “fetish.”


The authors found that black women on matchmaking platforms must frequently contend with racist stereotypes such as the sexually insatiable “Jezebel,” which has roots in slavery, and the “angry black woman” — a belief that black women are innately unruly and ill-tempered.


The authors suggest doing away with racial filters on apps in order to eliminate the perpetuation of racial stereotyping and discrimination.

However, they note that their objective isn’t to bash people for having a dating “type,” nor is it to browbeat folks into dating outside of their race.