It’s possible to set up and use an account on OKCupid using someone else’s email address, as comedian and blogger Adam Heath Avitable discovered last week when he woke up to emails from the dating site addressed to “gayasssfuck,” thanking him for creating a profile. And what a profile! “Someone put my real address, with my photo, in a dating profile on OkCupid, using my real email address, and invited people to come rape me. Oh, and they actually sent out messages to 24 different men as well,” Mr. Avitable writes.
This creative form of cyberbullying is possible because OKCupid does not require email verification before allowing a new user to edit an account. Despite gaining access to the fake account hours after it was created, Mr. Avitable is hoppin’ mad. “OkCupid, I expect a response. I want the IP address of the person who did this. I would also like to know why you can create profiles without email verification, why you allow profiles to be published sharing private information such as someone’s address without any oversight, and what part of your business plan supports rape,” he wrote.
It’s unwise for any startup to hand out IP addresses without a subpoena, but we’ll leaving the hashing to commenters. This presents another consideration in the pseudonymity debate–it’s much harder to hold sites like OKCupid accountable when users are in the habit of using obscure handles. If someone tried to impersonate Mr. Avitable on Google+, for example, Google would shut the imposter down chop-chop. Similarly, Twitter makes a real effort to protect people (famous ones at least) from impersonation.