The Woman Who's Studying Swipes At Bumble

Photo: Courtesy of Bumble.
Love may not be an exact science, but that doesn't mean there isn't some science involved, especially when it comes to algorithmically-enabled dating apps.
Jessica Carbino, or Dr. Jess, has become something of a figurehead in the "science of dating" community: For the past three and a half years, the 31-year-old served as Tinder's Sociologist, a post she was appointed to after finishing her dissertation, which explored "meeting and mating" in the swipe right era. Today, in a move reminiscent of Verizon's "Can You Hear Me Now" guy going to Sprint, Bumble has announced that Carbino is joining its ranks as the app's new sociologist.
As it turns out, there are a few different job requirements for a dating app sociologist. There's a media-facing component — in her time at Tinder, Carbino offered data-based tips on everything from scoring a date to perfecting your profile photo. Then there's the in-house, user component. Carbino says her primary responsibilities at Bumble will involve understanding users' experiences on the app and using that understanding to make effective product changes.
In the time of #MeToo, dating apps are in a particularly interesting and complicated position: On the one hand, they're poised to take action against users who violate standards of conduct. Bumble has already been vocal in this arena, releasing the much-publicised "Dear Connor" letter to a sexist male user in 2016. (More recently, the app banned alt-right member Jack Posobiec.) But the decision to ban users is actually a tricky one; it isn't always as clear-cut as the Connor case.
For her part, Carbino says it's too early to speculate on whether #MeToo has caused a shift in how users communicate on dating apps. "We've raised our consciousness collectively about issues related to harassment and appropriate behaviour," she told Refinery29. While an inappropriate interaction in the past "may have raised alarm bells for a variety of individuals," Carbino says the #MeToo movement's collective energy means "there is more of an impetus for people to act" when an unwanted message is sent.
Still, at Bumble, it isn't all about dating. The app's recent addition of the LinkedIn-like networking vertical Bizz, as well as the friendship-based BFF vertical, means that Carbino will have a much larger realm for studying how we connect via swipe.
"I know dating at this point like the back of my hand," she told Refinery29. "[I'm excited] to explore social relationships from another perspective."

More from Tech

R29 Original Series