OkCupid shot an arrow through some antigay bias this week when the online dating site denounced donations Mozilla Firefox's new CEO made to support a gay marriage ban by telling users to switch to another browser.
Although it was in 2008 that Brendan Eich donated $1,000 to support California’s Proposition 8 campaign, only last week—when he was named Mozilla CEO—did he really come under fire. Over the last few days Mozilla employees and gay marriage supporters have taken to Twitter to call for Eich’s resignation or removal. The deluge of media coverage on the topic continued as OkCupid posted a letter on its landing page expressing disapproval of Eich.
We are sad to think that any OkCupid page loads would even indirectly contribute towards the success of an individual who supported Prop 8—and who for all we know would support it again.
OkCupid is open to gay and straight singles, and according to its statement, about 8 percent of the relationships on the website are gay matches.
Equality for gay relationships is personally important to many of us here at OkCupid. But it’s professionally important to the entire company. OkCupid is for creating love. Those who seek to deny love and instead enforce misery, shame, and frustration are our enemies, and we wish them nothing but failure.
While OkCupid’s stance may be gutsy and heartfelt, it is unclear how it will affect Mozilla's bottom line. About 14 percent of Internet users went online using Firefox last month, according to NetMarketShare, after months of steady decline from about 18 percent in May 2013. Internet Explorer dominates the browser world, earning the loyalty of nearly half of all users.
Eich has been doing what he can to pull Mozilla (and himself) back into the public’s good graces. In a blog post published on his website last week, he said he was “honored” and “humbled” by his new role as CEO and would work with the LGBT community to learn “what does and doesn’t make Mozilla supportive and welcoming.”
I am committed to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion. You will see exemplary behavior from me toward everyone in our community, no matter who they are; and the same toward all those whom we hope will join, and for those who use our products.
As for OkCupid, its public statement may be a great marketing move for a brand that has always been forward-thinking, progressive, and a trendsetter, said Karen North, director of University of Southern California's Annenberg Program on Online Communities.
By publicly supporting gay marriage on a dating website, OkCupid is helping to shape its brand and build its image as a modern dating forum, North said.
“I think that the most important thing about this is that every site or app needs to create its own personality, and whatever that personality is, it’s either appealing or unappealing to individuals,” she said.
Finding a niche market is what many dating sites have done. There’s JDate for Jewish people, Christian Mingle for Christians, and OurTime for singles over 50.
But perhaps one of the most well-known is gay dating app Grindr, which has more than 3 million users in the U.S. and is designed exclusively for gay males looking to hook up or make a connection. North said although she didn't know if Grindr was the most popular gay dating app, “it certainly is the most talked about."
There’s no doubt OkCupid’s stand in support of gay marriage has the public talking about it. North said that by showing it is willing to take action to support equal rights, OkCupid may see the love returned through more gay singles signing up.