Chicago Culture Vulture

devouring theatre, film, and food

How to Find Your Soulmate and Give MTV All Your Data

What would I have to pay you to find out your name? Usually no more than a compliment. How about your age? Not much. It’s probably hinted at by the wrinkles around your eyes. How about your email address? Probably just enter you into a sweepstakes. How about your address, birthday, education history, hometown, current city, family members, relationship status, work history, every photo you’ve uploaded to Facebook, everything you’ve liked on Facebook, everything on your Facebook NewsFeed? Now what would I have to give you for your friends’ names? Your friend’s birthdays, the friends of those friends, their hometowns, their likes (music, TV, movies, books, quotes), their current cities, their family members, their relationship statuses, and their work history? How about every message in your Facebook inbox? What would I have to give you? It’d have to be something substantial. $100 seems trite. $1,000 is probably closer. But even suggesting there’s a price for all this data – information you probably can’t recall – seems wrong. Plus, it’s your friends’ data, too. Do you have a right to surrender that? Well, you are.  all giving it all up to find out the identity of the one.


MTV app “Match Machine” analyzes your Facebook friends and their data to determine who the “one for you is.” I doubt many people put stock into the result. It’s no more than a “fun” way to pass time on Facebook, strike up conversation with an old friend, and a generate a few likes on a comment thread. Only a developer could poke around into what the actual algorithm is, but every one of us can see the data that is being scoured and accessed.

It’s every piece of data listed above.

In one click, you surrender it all.

Don’t worry, though. Match Machine has a privacy policy. Privacy policies are usually length and filled with legalese. Here’s the MTV app’s. Two sentences.


I’m as guilty as everyone else who appreciated the novelty, and enjoyed indulging in a quick moment of fantasy.  Except this one click surrenders more data than you can remember to a media company with a financial interest in understanding who you are, who your friends are, and what you like. While the uncharacteristically short privacy policy mentions not storing your data, it’s unclear what aggregate insights are being culled. While I doubt Match Machine is a malicious attempt to harvest your personal data, it is a shocking reminder of how little we have to be given to give it all up.


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This entry was posted on February 15, 2014 by in Uncategorized.
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