We have zero time to beat around the bush, no matter how much I’d love to spend all day discussing the visual image that “beat around the bush” immediately sears into my brain (of someone in a 1940s safari outfit waving a hiking stick through pubi–): Tinder just came up with an algorithm that changes the order of your photos to get you more right swipes!
HAHA Facebook, your algorithms can suck it. Call me when your whatever whiteboard math equations promise to find me love.
This breaking science is part of a new Tinder feature called “smart photos.” The algorithm automatically adjusts the order of your Tinder pics depending on who’s doing the swiping. For example, if I still used Tinder,* it would learn that I hate fedoras and am deterred by professional head shots. Then it would arrange the photos of each man I come across so that his fedora and professional non-working actor photos get shown last.
“It’s designed to ‘maximize the potential’ of your first profile image and appeal to a wider audience,” writes Mic.com. I could have paraphrased that instead of quoting them but I didn’t feel like it. Also according to Mic, “Tinder says this profile alternation led to a 12% increase in matches during testing.”
Most people use Tinder by rapidly swiping left on autopilot, barely paying attention, a little bit dead behind the eyes — just like romance. Every 20th photo or so someone piques enough interest to change the swiper’s thumbs direction. It’s the more judicial Tinder dater, or perhaps one entertaining a dining table of married couples, who will actually take time to go through every one of a user’s photos. Part of me wonders if this automatic reorganizing of photos isn’t a bit cat-fishy. Like, “Oh my god, I said yes to you because you were holding a golden retriever puppy. WTF. I had no idea you were into 2002 white boyband headwear!” But then again wouldn’t that be my fault for not doing a bit more research?
Here’s another negative to consider: no more control how other’s view your profile.
The Most Right Swiped Man on Tinder, Andy Mizrahi, brought up this downside to me.
“Being a control freak, I would prefer to do it [arrange photos] my own way. I’m in marketing. I think I know better than the algorithm, which might be my ego talking.” Or it might be the Tinder-appointed “P” that shows up on his verified profile that lets others know he was “Mr. Jersey” in People Magazine’s 2015 “Sexiest Man Alive” issue. He is clearly doing something right. He also had a great point: that the order of the photos we select tend to tell a story about ourselves that we want to project. (So bottom line, we cat-fish everyone no matter what but also, Tinder, back off. You don’t know my life.)
However, Mizrahi thinks that the algorithm will be helpful to those users who don’t know which photo to lead with. A lot of people ask him to chose their best photos for him. I hear that. I usually make my roommate pretend he’s a guy (he is a guy) anytime I update my dating profile so that I get an educated second opinion.
Class is almost dismissed, but you don’t get The Most Right Swiped Man on Tinder on the horn and not ask him for a few dating app photo tips, so here were his:
1) If you have too many fancy or professional-looking photos, you’ll look like a robot, so have a variety.
2) That said, it varies with demographic. Mizrahi said that he found the dating app scene in LA to be way more head-shot friendly. Everyone had them, which made him step up his own photo game while living there.
***Ed note: Beware conformity for conformity’s sake and literally do whatever you want so long as it’s legal and safe!!!***
3) Make sure your photos appear to be from different days instead of five versions of the same shoot. Aim for a wide range (with a friend, without a friend). That way your profile doesn’t look fake. Lotta robots on Tinder these days.
And there you have it. We learned a lot, mostly that tons of people still use Tinder! Do you? What do you think about this feature? Are you mad that Tinder assumes it knows more than you? Do you feel like it’s kind of superficial and judge-y? Don’t you feel like that’s the nature of being on a dating app, though? Or are you happy that someone else is making what is often a really annoying series of decisions, sort of like when someone else handles ordering at a complicated restaurant with too many options?
* I don’t use Tinder anymore for at least 800 different reasons which is a whole other article and I thought we agreed in sentence one that we were all busy today!
Follow Andy Mizrahi on Twitter and Instagram, @andcredible_miz.