CHINA / SOCIETY
Dating blind box – a good new option or just a hustle?
Published: Nov 23, 2021 01:45 AM
A man and a woman chat on a blind date event in Dongguan, South China's Guangdong Province. Photo: IC

A man and a woman chat on a blind date event in Dongguan, South China's Guangdong Province. Photo: IC


 
Dating blind box, a new term that has appeared in Chinese society following the popularity of blind box toys, is being offered as a way for generation Z to go on blind dates, with potentially huge benefits available from the country’s many young singles. 

The way to get involved is easy. One only needs to search for a WeChat love matching or blind date mini program. Dozens of such programs will appear if the user types in a keyword such as “couple,” or “dating,” and you then register for your own account.

“You can pay 1 yuan ($0.16) to get a WeChat number from us, and you need to pay 1 yuan to put your own WeChat contact number in our system,” a staff member with a program named “Tuodan Couple,” meaning matching a couple, told the Global Times on Monday.

This low-price offer has earned some online vendors thousands of yuan in a short period. “We once received 10,000 orders in just three days,” an e-commercial shop owner told The Beijing News.

Some customers call them “online cupid,” or Yue Lao, an aged god living on the moon who acts as a marriage matchmaker. But users may not notice the hidden risk that these mini programs could privately collect customers’ data.

The Global Times found out that some of the programs require the users’ phone numbers and some even ask questions such as age, place of residence, or birthdays. 

“As the number of the customers increases, more personal information will be collected by small program platforms. But if these platforms intend to sell the data, push advertisements, or leak the information in any way, it is difficult to ensure the security of consumers’ personal information,” said a Shanghai-based lawyer surnamed Lü.

And the worry is not unreasonable, as in the first half of 2021, a total of 138 apps were hit with fines, mostly for improper collection and use of data.

The young singles reached by the Global Times also shared their worries over the new trend. “I would like to go on a blind date but I will never use this. It’s like a Pandora’s box: You never know what will happen when you open it.”

In general, there are more risk-driven consumers in generation Z, according to iiMedia Research, a Guangzhou-based consulting and research center, and young people’s interest in blind boxes is transforming into huge spending power. Data from iiMedia shows that among the most expensive hobbies of young people born after 1995, blind boxes rank at the top.
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