TOGETHER is a unique dating website and mobile application that allows users to match with each other solely through voice. We use divergent strategies to underscore the novelty of the social software market. In a society that emphasizes efficiency and external conditions, TOGETHER is dedicated to helping people to find true love regardless of identity and labels. We strive to care for customers and to be the dominant social software on the market. Our goal is the moderate growth of users, high ratings and evaluations from users and the increase in the number of inspiring love stories from users who successfully find people they love through TOGETHER.
TOGETHER uses voice messages to start a user’s journey of romance. The main technique is the real-time matching. Users need to record a 10 seconds voice message and after clicking send, users will be matched to the voice with the closest frequency. When you are hearing the voice of another person, they are also hearing your voice at the same time. If you feel like you want to know more about them, you can click “like”. If both users click “like”, the two users are successfully matched and they can voice chat with each other. After the match, the two users will start a blind test period for ten days. In these ten days, users are not allowed to share their appearances, education backgrounds, occupation, or income.
After the testing period ends, if they both click “continue date”, they can tell each other their backgrounds to make further decisions. TOGETHER users must be over 18 years old, and there are no upper age limits, gender limits, regional limits, religion limits, or racial limits. TOGETHER is mainly marketing to singles from ages 18 to 35 who want to actively start a relationship. TOGETHER will collect users’ basic information including phone number and email. The company will also collect user’s gender, age, education backgrounds, and occupation to pinpoint the majority customer group that use this application. In addition, the company will collect data about how users usually access TOGETHER. Knowing this data will help us to give prominence to the advertisement in the right places. TOGETHER will send a survey asking users why they use the application and what they expect. The feedback will help TOGETHER improve their product to meet users’ expectations. Moreover, TOGETHER will track the progress of each customer’s relationship to analyze if the blind tests work effectively. The company will also collect data about the percentage of matches whose decisions are consistent and inconsistent before and after knowing each other’s identities.
This will help TOGETHER do research about how much people nowadays value the external conditions of their partner and how blind test periods can help users to find the feeling of love regardless of who they are. Why does it exist: As the use of the smartphone is popularized and the internet industry rises rapidly, mobile social networks emerge and gradually replace the “real world” young people live in. But the traditional social software which allows users to post words and pictures are already losing people’s attention in the sea of sameness, the continuous emergence of this kind of social software will only cause the aesthetic fatigue of the crowd.
TOGETHER focuses on the specific social software aimed at developing relationships. Software like Tantan in China evolved from a dating software to a hookup software. The internet platform Baihe is aimed at people who want marriages. However, what’s in between these two extremes is being ignored by most companies. According to Leah LeFebvre’s survey of Tinder users from 18 to 34, only 5.1% of them use this application for a hook up. Actually, most young people using social software neither intend to have sexual behavior or find marriages. They are looking for a serious relationship. Considering this demand from consumers, TOGETHER pioneers this largely untapped market, and we are choosing voice as the medium for our social network.
Another big highlight of TOGETHER is the blind test period. We live in a society in which no one can escape from being labeled. However, what if we hid all our labels and just used our voices to assess if he or she is the Mr./Mrs. right for us? Letting go of any material conditions, without knowing each other’s identity, TOGETHER aims to let users start a pure relationship as if they were still in college and find the simple happiness of being their true selves in love. In a society that pursues efficiency, pure love is a luxury; starting a relationship is more like starting a business negotiation. People have standards in their minds that their partners must meet in order to be the right date. When we select people that we want to date, their physical appearance is valued most. When we use dating apps like Tantan and Tinder, the profile photo is what jumps into users’ sight first and they will also see the age, education backgrounds, and jobs under the profile picture. However, a voice is more likely to touch one’s deepest emotions. By sharing voices with someone they don’t know, the user will pursue the basic human nature of love through a blind test.
TOGETHER sets ethic codes to manage stockholders, administrative staff, general staff, and consumers. As a start-up business that pioneers in innovative social software, TOGETHER promises not to survive and expand the company in the market through trading users’ data. why: According to economic models, all people are rational in choosing the best alternative to maximize their profit, and the Pareto efficiency further states that the only way one person’s welfare can be improved is by lowering other people’s welfare. Applying this theorem to big data, as it brings people great values, people also face challenges of data security and personal privacy. Most often companies ignore perspectives other than making profits. However, the ethics code should be the essence and the new form of capital for company operations. To specify, the ethics code is the value proposition of a business. It is the reason that a company can create wealth and enhance its competitiveness in the market. To ensure the sustainable development of TOGETHER, we pay special attention to the ethics of data management and we connect it closely to the public responsibility of a business. Laws and regulations in big data can hardly catch up to the rapid growth of data industry nowadays, so under the circumstances that laws can have omissions and deficiencies, TOGETHER enforces high standards in data ethics regulations beyond the existing laws.
TOGETHER fulfills the obligation that is beneficial to the long-term development of society. Our goal is to reach the balance between ethics and economic effectiveness giving priority to protecting users’ privacy and security. Although not trading data is in other words to increase the cost of a business operation, TOGETHER will not let consumers bare the cost. Many live-broadcasting companies shut down rapidly because their operational managements are built on sweeping violations of users’ privacy. These companies repeatedly push the bottom line of users’ privacy and they stop their services after drawing criticism from the crowd. Since the attention of the crowd is the best resource for internet industries, these companies aim to get attention in a very short period of time. This is one of the reasons many companies like to take the risk of unethical commercial activities. Short-sighted companies challenge the rules that build up over time for immeasurable temporary benefits and this greatly deteriorates the healthy competition in a marketing environment. We sacrifice short-term benefits in exchange for long-term gain by undertaking social responsibility, and by doing so, we build a solid foundation for our long-term development goals that include positive brand image and potential for economic growth.
TOGETHER makes it as transparent as possible about what data is being collected to the database, how we collect and process the data, the range of data application, the use of captured data, and the risk users may take in giving their personal information. In addition, the use of data is limited only to intracompany to optimize the software, keep the basic normal operation of the system, and to achieve various functions for users. Any data collected by TOGETHER should be granted consent by users.
Why: TOGETHER’s highest principle is to respect people who provide us with the data. When our use of data such as doing research can have an impact on people, we always first consider the potential harm it can bring to the users, otherwise, it is considered unfair. Consumers are usually unwitting of the process of big data technology. An example is the dating software in China named Tantan. Most users voluntarily disclose their information about their interests, hometown, jobs, music, and the food they like. The reason that most users are unaware of how much they tell about themselves on the internet is that applications like Tantan are emotionally-driven. People become a Tantan user to find dates, so we can automatically assume that most of them are ready to share their information. Undoubtedly, big data is a double-edged sword, even though in some cases people are unwilling to disclose their personal information, they cannot offset the commercial or social values an application or a service brings.
What most users don’t realize is that Tantan can use personal data to analyze individual behaviors and they can trade users’ data for advertising. When we shop on Amazon, what we’ve viewed and our personal information may already be gathered and utilized in some hidden ways. That is, consumers don’t have the choice when being collected as samples into the database and they most often become the analysis target staying unnoticed. Many applications and websites require users to provide them certain personal information and open up the permission for location, contacts on phone for registration and to use basic services. If users want to access more functions, they need to provide more information in exchange. Most internet companies have no perspicuous stipulation in terms of information exchange, which leads to users’ privacy being controlled and manipulated without users being conscious of it.
Companies avoid their social responsibility by giving vague explanations. To speak in a more serious way, this behavior is using big data to relinquish individual rights and freedom. Some people are willing to give up part of their privacy in exchange for the services provided by companies, but there is no guarantee that everyone has the desire to share their information. So using privacy right as the bargaining chip for services is a violation of ethics to some extent. TOGETHER grants users rights to reject our data collection requests and we do not use ‘inability to access the software’ strategy to force users to give out their information. We do require users to open up the microphone in order to access the main service on TOGETHER, but we do not record the voice messages without users’ permissions.
TOGETHER uses numbers and graphical illustrations to advertise our application. This includes our success rate of matches, our manual increase of users, the ratings from users and so on. TOGETHER promises not to emphasize favorable data and bury unflattering data. In addition, on the graphical display, we do not use strategies to mislead people in order to achieve the greatest commercial effect. All data and graphs shown are objective to reflect our true quality instead of subjective company opinions.
Why: As media transmission has a larger social impact and people like to measure the quality of services in a digitalized way, statistics play an important role in people’s decision making. Since data utilization involves the most wide-ranging interest nowadays, the misleading data appears frequently and most people lack the knowledge to identify the true piece of information data expresses. The misrepresentation of the data will let people make wrong decisions, which eventually results in controlling people’s actions. Many companies take this advantage to maximize their profits. A carefully manipulated statistical result can be much more problematic than a lie because data can mislead people’s thoughts. TOGETHER’s data reflects the real economic performance of the company and we refuse the artificially modified product. We do not cheat consumers for interests because this is ethically wrong.
TOGETHER follows the ‘minimum data collection principle.’ We collect the least possible personal information for specific purposes from users and we process the data legally and appropriately. TOGETHER anonymizes data to ensure that the data has dissociated from the identification of the user. We have experts from various fields such as security and engineering to protect the database. After we use the data to do research with blind tests, TOGETHER destroys the data without unreasonable delay.
Why: There exist significant inequalities between users and companies because users are unable to control their data. When users want to delete their data, it is possible that it has already been sold to other companies or has already been run through a large amount of processing which indirectly indicates that users lost their data access permissions. Trust is a complex topic in big data and serves as the very basic foundation between users and companies because data is linked with personal privacy and security in countless ways. TOGETHER regards data as property. Raw data and the processed data generated are all the property of users. In other words, data is not owned by the data collector, data analyst or the company itself. Personal data should also have ownership and be protected similarly with what stated in the property right. From the moment we were born, our data is being collected in innumerable ways, such as when we go to the dentist, add products to the shopping cart or buy a new iPhone.
Since information digitalized, data circulation is beyond reproach because the internet is designed for disseminating and sharing information. While most people are already used to data collection, they are scared of companies abusing the data. Such as when Amazon make consumers’ shopping experience more personalized by collecting the data about what items are frequently viewed, most consumers feel secure because they know how Amazon processes this data, so the majority holds passive attitudes. However, seeing this problem from the other side, we become prisoners in our identities. In the case of Amazon, our page views help them conclude the type of products that interest us. Whether we like to buy Disney toys or we love some particular brands, these choices are considered part of our identity. We can’t escape from who we are since Amazon constantly reminds us of our tastes in shopping. The disclosure of personal information on different applications and websites gradually creates the digital biography that largely defines who we are. TOGETHER believes that any data that relates to personal privacy follows the rule that less is better. Big data makes people live in a transparent way in which data knows us better than ourselves by tracking and monitoring every corner of people’s lives and predicting people’s behaviors. Many times, our fear does not come from the privacy leaks itself, but rather the possibility of being predicted. As we disclose more data, big data analysis becomes more precise about our lives and our future options become more narrow because our behaviors are inclined to be consistent with what is being predicted. So, we not only lose our right to choose, but we also lose our agency.
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