Old Match.com Profiles Reappear Online Because 'Delete' Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means

By Rhett Jones on at

Dating site Match.com went live in 1995—it’s ancient in terms of the world wide web. That’s a whole lot of time for users to forget they ever had a profile or what embarrassing content might be on it. Thanks to a glitch, you might get an unexpected reminder because an unconfirmed number of “deleted” profiles are reportedly rising from the dead.

While the #deleteFacebook movement marches along, Match’s situation is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the fact that sometimes the delete button really just means “hide.” According to The Verge, some former users of the dating site started receiving emails in recent weeks informing them that they matched with someone despite the fact that their account was deleted years ago. From the report:

A Match Group spokesperson confirmed that a “limited number” of old accounts had been accidentally reactivated recently and that any account affected received a password reset. Match.com’s current privacy statement, which was last updated in 2016, says that the company can “retain certain information associated with your account” even after you close it. But that Match Group spokesperson also told The Verge that the company plans to roll out a new privacy policy “in the next month or so,” in order to comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR); under the new policy, all those years-old accounts will be deleted. The Verge has requested clarification on which accounts will qualify for deletion, and what “deletion” will specifically entail, but has not received a response as of press time.

The Verge spoke to multiple users who’ve had their account reappear years after it was deleted, in one case the faux-deletion occurred more than 10 years ago. We’ve reached out to Match to ask for specific numbers on how many accounts were affected by the glitch and if the accounts fell within a certain date range. We’ll update this post when we receive a reply.

Maybe your thinking this isn’t a big deal because Match is for middle-aged people who are looking for their second marriage. Not so fast. Match owns OKCupid, Tinder, and PlentyofFish. All three services retain your data in one way or another for some amount of time after you delete your account. There’s no indication that those services experienced the same glitch as their parent company—but we’ve asked Match, just in case.

Personally, I’ve been locked out of my MySpace account for years because I don’t remember what email I was using at the time. Do you remember what email you used to sign up on Match in 1997? Your cringe-inducing profile might be back up, just waiting for your wife’s single friend to see it. Meanwhile, you’ve migrated from that Earthlink account that’s receiving all the notifications, leaving you in the dark.

Match claims that its new GDPR-compliant terms of service will give everyone more control over what data gets permanently deleted, but don’t forget that Facebook has also claimed it will roll out those new protections for all of its users. So far, the social network has moved its servers specifically to prevent users from outside of the European Union from enjoying the new regulations, and its rollout for Europeans has left much to be desired. [The Verge]