Online dating is now so common that many people don’t care if their friends or coworkers stumble upon your profile. But that doesn’t mean you necessarily want your photo being used in an ad for the dating site.
And yet this is exactly what happened to Ben, who writes on his Tumblr that he’d “signed up for a Nerve.com profile a few months ago, and stopped using it after about a week because of it’s neutered functionality, and the fact that it seemed like diet OKCupid. To be honest, I just forgot about the thing.”
So you can imagine his surprise when a friend of his in Chicago sent him a screen grab of a Nerve page that prominently features Ben’s face and dating profile in a sidebar ad.
He then began trying to figure out how Nerve could get away with using his photo in their ads:
When I signed up, they didn’t make it clear (AT ALL) that my face and profile could be used as advertising imagery. Upon visiting “settings”, I was able to see that a box had been checked to make my face usable in advertising. Users should be able to opt out of these services easily, and it should be made clear from the get go that their imagery could be used like this.
I promptly deleted my Nerve account. Although I should’ve been more careful, no company should bury the fact that they’re doing this. And while I’d expect this to happen with networks like Facebook and Google+, an online dating site? Really? While I personally don’t care, given the stigma that sometimes exists with online dating, why would Nerve consider embarrassing its users?
We agree with Ben that this sort of feature needs to be both obvious and opt-in only. After all, there are plenty of vain online daters who would love to have their photos used in ads.
Shortly after posting on Tumblr, a Nerve rep contacted Ben:
I apologize that you were taken by surprise when you saw your photo on Nerve. We absolutely did not intend to use your photo without your permission. I know other dating sites have used non-users without their permission but we are only using photos of actual members who have not opted out. But obviously, we should reevaluate how we go about that. Lesson learned for us. Rest assured that your photo is being taken down as I type this. Again, I’m sorry that it wasn’t more clear to you that your photo might be used.
Note that this statement doesn’t say that Nerve will be changing its policy. It is still opt-out only.