U. Michigan professor and Mozilla Senior Fellow Apryl Williams reveals the prevalence of race-based discrimination on Tinder, Bumble, and other platforms

Williams draws on technical analysis, scores of user interviews, and the history of racism and romance in the U.S.

(ANN ARBOR, MI | FEBRUARY 7, 2024) -- This Valentine’s Day, a new book by Dr. Apryl Williams exposes how race-based discrimination is a fundamental part of the most popular and influential dating algorithms. “Not My Type: Automating Sexual Racism in Online Dating” (Stanford University Press) publishes on February 6, 2024.

“Not My Type” provides a socio-technical examination of the AI systems powering Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, and other apps. Williams uses deep analysis of companies’ patents and technology to reveal how racism and romance are now inextricably linked through computer code. She also interviews more than 100 app users, exploring why online dating as a person of color is so fraught.

Williams places this dynamic in a broader historical context, linking today’s digital practices to the long history of eugenics and banned interracial partnerships in the U.S. Ultimately, “Not My Type” calls for a reconceptualization of dating apps, policies that govern dating agencies, and a reexamination of sociocultural beliefs about attraction, beauty, and desirability.

Dr. Apryl Williams is a jointly appointed Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan in the Department of Communication & Media and the Digital Studies Institute. She is also a Senior Fellow in Trustworthy AI at the Mozilla Foundation and a Faculty Associate at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

Says Dr. Apryl Williams: “Sexual racism is a central feature, not a bug, in today’s online dating culture. Powerful matchmaking algorithms excel at matching people of similar ethnicities, races, and skin colors — and also excel at separating people with different ones. In many ways, today’s dating apps are an extension of long-standing laws and persistent taboos about mixed-race couples in America.”

Says Dr. Safiya Noble, the author of “Algorithms of Oppression” and a MacArthur Fellow who provides a forward for the book: “Williams makes the mundane, naturalized practice of online dating a matter we should think about more carefully. This book will take a reader on a journey through a history of race and racism, while educating us on how power systems are embedded in online dating applications. I consider this book to be illustrative of the very real and difficult work of making the invisible value structures of algorithmic and machine learning systems visible, at a time when we so desperately need these kinds of data literacies.”

“Not My Type: Automating Sexual Racist in Online Dating” is available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook here.



"[A] troubling investigation of structural racism in online dating platforms... Williams's highly accessible narrative is made extra intriguing by the liberal inclusion of users' own words sharing their intimate thoughts."

Publishers Weekly

"From the automation of white beauty standards to the chilling prevalence of racist abuse in private messages, Williams reveals the harms created when racism, technology, and romance interact."

—Angéle Christin, author of Metrics at Work

"This book changes how we think about the sociology of the 'real world' in dating by taking seriously the online world where so many of us find love forever or just right now. Apryl Williams shows us a new, better way to do digital sociology, and her writing makes for a compelling read."

—Jessie Daniels, author of Nice White Ladies


Press contacts:

Kevin Zawacki | [email protected]

Tracy Kariuki | [email protected]