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Illusration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Many dating apps offer up an ocean of potential mates, but as users complain of swipe fatigue, some are using what they know about you to try and fish out "the one."

Why it matters: Automated matchmaking is putting computers in charge of finding the perfect partner. But the algorithms they use, with all their hidden quirks and biases, may be quietly altering our own preferences.

What's going on: Unlike services that turn up every other nearby user, some apps match people based on information about them and who they want to date.

  • These apps have unseen power.
  • A 2016 study found that people who were given automatic matches were extra enthusiastic about the picks they were given — even though they felt less in control.

Advances in artificial intelligence plus the explosion of easily harvested personal data mean matching will only get more precise.

On one hand, access to online dating in general can help people break out of filter bubbles.

  • But, but, but: Apps that pick people for you can “make you a slave to the algorithm,” Ari Waldman, director of the Innovation Center for Law and Technology at New York University, tells Axios.
  • "We only see people who the algorithm thinks are our matches, which tend to look a lot like us — social scientists call that a network effect. This makes dating less diverse, perpetuates social inequality, and cedes our personal autonomy."

The big picture: "When you live in a world where everything is deterministically engineered based on predictions of what you want, it ends up shaping what you want," says Brett Frischmann, co-author of the book "Re-Engineering Humanity."

Our thought bubble: If apps have a hidden hand in pairing people up, there is also a growing generation of children who owe their existence to an algorithm.

Go deeper: Our special report on the future of dating

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
1 hour ago - Technology

Facebook's scandals have been great for shareholders

Expand chart
Data: YCharts; Chart: Axios

Facebook has been embroiled in scandal for the past five years, and while the specific allegations change over time, a central theme is constant. Given the choice between commercial and moral imperatives, Facebook always seems to choose the option that is best for the share price.

Why it matters: Facebook's stock chart supports that narrative. Since the 2016 scandals alleging that the social network was infiltrated by foreign actors trying to influence the outcome of democratic elections, Facebook's revenues — and its stock — have been soaring.

Biden to tap telecom trio for NTIA, FCC posts

Jessica Rosenworcel. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

President Joe Biden on Tuesday is expected to name Alan Davidson as head of the telecom arm of the Commerce Department, Jessica Rosenworcel as chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission and Gigi Sohn as a commissioner at the FCC, according to a person familiar with the process.

Why it matters: Internet availability and affordability has been a key policy priority for the White House, but the administration lagged in tapping people for the agency posts that oversee the issues.

3 hours ago - Technology

Facebook seeks fountain of youth

Data: Piper Sandler Taking Stock With Teens Study; Chart: Axios Visuals

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Monday said that the company is pivoting its strategy to focus on young adults, following reports that teens have fled its apps.

Why it matters: A series of stories based on leaked whistleblower documents suggest the company sees the aging of its user base as an existential threat to its business.