Profile photo filters banned on Plenty of Fish – but your cringe gym photos are still allowed

Fish-themed phone backgrounds.

Ever been slightly let down that your date doesn’t show up at the restaurant wearing a sparkly flower crown? Or, more likely, doesn’t really look as you’d expected at all?

Well, Plenty of Fish (PoF) has now banned profile pictures that have filters applied, to make the site experience more authentic and avoid unrealistic disappointment when you meet IRL

The dating site made the decision after 70 percent of its users said they found face filters to be “deceptive” and over half (52 percent) said they thought filters should be banned on dating apps altogether. Results from the study of 2,000 PoF users in the US also found that people deem bathroom selfies and gym selfies more “cringeworthy” than filtered photos, but if you too find those a bit embarrassing, unfortunately there’s no plan to ban those. 

The Fish has spoken

Surprisingly, more men (44 percent) admitted to editing or applying filters to their photos than women (35 percent). But no matter how cute you find the puppy effect, filters aren’t everyone’s cup of tea – one in three PoF users said they passed up messaging someone on a dating app because their pics were too heavily edited. 

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Predictably, Gen Z is the least likely of all generations to judge the use of face filters, with 30% of younger users saying their first impression of someone using one is that they’re fun. 

But on the whole, PoF users are four times more likely to message someone with an unfiltered photo of themselves on their profile (with three or four photos being most preferred).

So while PoF’s new rules might seem a bit strict, they might help you bag a date more easily. 

“This data suggests that singles are not interested in seeing an idealised depiction of potential dating partners through edited photos and unrealistic positive self-descriptions,” said clinical psychologist Dr Cortney Warren, who PoF commissioned to provide commentary alongside the survey.

“If the goal is to find a long-lasting relationship, starting with a more realistic, authentic picture of who each person is will not only be refreshing, but also likely lead to more meaningful connections.” 

The dating app photo rulebook

Other dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble and OkCupid also have rules on the types of photos they allow. In theory, the more realistically users present themselves, the less surprise when users meet up outside of the app, which could lead to more dating success. But while PoF’s commissioned survey helped the company figure out what it users really want, other sites have also adopted their own rules in the same pursuit of authenticity, but also for safety reasons. 

In 2018, after the Parkland mass shooting in Florida, Bumble banned photos featuring guns (and donated $100,000 to charity March For Our Lives). It also bans photos of people in their underwear and anything deemed to be pornographic material. 

Tinder and OkCupid also ask users to not upload sexually explicit content, with OkCupid’s rules stipulating that users “accurately visually describe who you are as a person.” 

Hinge bans “inappropriate content,” but doesn’t appear to have strict photo rules. So if those fake nerdy glasses are your thing, it’s good to know there’s still a dating app for you. 

Read Next: Would you trust Facebook Dating with your secret crushes?

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Tara Lepore's expertise and writing prowess have been showcased through her contributions to respected publications such as Wired, The Guardian, Vice, and Gizmodo. Her insightful articles within these outlets have provided readers with an in-depth understanding of the intricate connection between sex and technology.Tara's ability to deliver well-researched and thought-provoking content has made her a valuable contributor in the field, capturing the attention of a wide audience and leaving a lasting impact. Her writing style effortlessly combines expert knowledge with a relatable and engaging tone, making complex topics accessible to all.Through her work, Tara Lepore continues to enlighten readers and shape the conversation on the ever-evolving landscape of sex and technology.

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