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Opinion

OP/EXTRA

OkCupid’s Firefox protest refreshingly innovative

OkCupid’s ‘slacktivism’ is effective and fresh

This messages appears when a user attempts to access OkCupid.com using the Mozilla Firefox browser.

Screen shot

This messages appears when a user attempts to access OkCupid .com using the Mozilla Firefox browser.

Taking a stand has never been easier: All an activist needs to spread a message of dissatisfaction is a Twitter account and a memorable hashtag (#CancelColbert, anyone?). This kind of slacktivism — which allows the promotion of bandwagon-friendly, trend-of-the-moment causes with minimal effort — has grown stale, but the latest in digital protest is refreshingly innovative.

Since Monday, when members of OkCupid attempt to access the online dating behemoth using Mozilla’s browser, Firefox, they are confronted with a letter from OkCupid founder Christian Rudder, asking users to boycott Firefox in favor of another browser. The letter explains that Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, opposes gay marriage, and because “OkCupid is for creating love,” the company is urging its members to employ other means to access the site.

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Eich, who pioneered JavaScript and took over as CEO of the Mozilla Corporation at the end of March, has faced backlash from his own employees, and three members of the board (including two former CEOs) resigned over his promotion. Eich’s stance, most evident from his 2008 $1,000 donation to California’s Proposition 8 campaign against same-sex marriage, has reportedly also prompted gay and LGBT-allied app developers to boycott Mozilla.

Though some saw OkCupid’s move as a mere marketing ploy, the company isn’t alone in their distaste for Eich. And the action certainly underscores the level of influence tech companies can exert on users, especially when it comes to matters of policy and civic engagement. And OkCupid is taking its message one step further, allowing users to switch browsers by providing links to Safari, Chrome, Opera, and Internet Explorer — and delivering an economic blow to Mozilla (even if a small one).

Media reports put OkCupid’s total membership at around 30 million, with over 1 million unique users logging in daily. According to the company, about 12 percent of its traffic comes from Mozilla. OkCupid deserves credit for standing by its beliefs and using its soapbox.

Marcela Garcia is a regular contributor to the Globe opinion pages. You can follow her on Twitter @Marcela_Elisa.
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