Flag Mod (noun) The special users on dating sites that determine if flagged posts are actually inappropriate.
I don’t know about your experience, but when I dip my toe into the murky waters of online dating, I find myself hitting the button marked “Report It” more often than the one marked “Like.” The Match.com and OKCupid algorithms do their best, bless their little robot hearts, but a lot of scammers, frauds, and just plain dirtbags still slink through. After flagging yet another oh-so-phony profile, I was invited to become an OKC Flag Mod. The skill-set required for the job appears to be: a working command of the English language, a computer (mobile apps don’t work), and the ability to look at a random selection of erections without losing your lunch.
So here I am, your Flag Mod. When you flag that obscene photo or report that fake profile, I’m one of the “special users” who determines whether it should in fact be deleted, or if you were overreacting. The position is both unpaid and unsung, two job descriptions I usually avoid, but I do it because it’s a fascinating glimpse into the psyche — and often the boxers — of the dating public.
Most of the deleted photos are simple “NTU” violations: Not The User. On OKC, you’re asked to post only photos of yourself in the main Profile Photos folder. Your dogs — and there are lots of dogs, hundreds upon hundreds of dogs — your artwork, your adorable niece, that amazing dinner you cooked, a view of the Grand Canyon … all of those have to go into a different folder, or they get deleted. It’s a technicality, and personally I like a nice travel photo, but them’s the rules. I don’t know why anyone even bothers to narc on a picture of a vegetable garden or a sunset, but they do.
The second most frequent violation I see is the Scammer, or Fake Profile. Usually the flagged photo is an informal selfie of a late teen/early 20’s girl, invariably with impressive cleavage and pouty lips and who, for some reason, is almost always a brunette. The reporting party is invariably an affronted suitor who huffs “NTU! Not the user! This is porn star Janessa Brazil!!” A quick Google Image Search reveals that, indeed, the pics were copied from the Instagram feeds or web pages of an adult model or porn actress. I don’t know why the reporters are so proud of their working knowledge of the porn industry, but there you go.
As a female over 50, I am approached by a different kind of con artist: The Beverly Hills Millionaire. He looks like a suit model (because the picture was clipped from the Spiegel catalog) and he “will love to know you more,” (because Google Translate still hasn’t quite gotten a handle on the future perfect tense.) He’s always “a God-fearing man,” “humble” and “of great integrity” — often a widower with a daughter. And it’s always a daughter, never a son. I find it interesting that these scammers are sophisticated enough to know that “daughter” elicits more sympathy than “son,” but un-American enough not to know that the number of widowers under age 60 within walking distance of Cedars Sinai Medical Center approaches zero.
The least common variety of flagged photos are Obscene Content, but I do see them. I can’t unsee them. The OKC rule is “Ladies, no nips. Guys, no dongs.” And yet dongs there be. There are men who have posted pictures of penises that, trust me, are not ready for their close-up. “I don’t know why you’re so proud of that, sir,” I want to write in the Comment box, but the users never see the feedback of the Flag Mods.
There are a few other violation categories, like Extreme Close Up (eyeballs, tattoos), or Childhood Photo. Yet there’s no rule against hiding your face entirely, or being a married couple — both of which strike me as playing fast and loose with the definition of “dating site.” But, hey, I don’t have to go out with them. That’s the secret superpower of all online dating: It doesn’t matter how vulgar the guy is, or how phony the girl is; bottom line, you don’t have to go out with them if you don’t want to.
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