Typos in online dating are about as common as shirtless selfies. But usually they’re innocuous, not offensive, and they’re usually coming from humans using the app or site — not from the humans behind the scenes.
Arum Kang, one of Coffee Meets Bagel’s founders, tells me that the company caught the misspelling about 10 to 15 minutes after the notifications had gone out, and that the error was corrected for other time zones. “It’s the first time we’ve had to correct a mistake,” Kang says. “Clearly it was a typo, but obviously a really bad typo.”
Twitter was quick to pounce, of course.
The typo’s timing made it even more unfortunate. Washington held its 40th Capital Pride Parade on Sunday, and other East Coast cities will hold pride celebrations in the coming weeks. One Washington reader of Solo-ish, Marc H., a 25-year-old man who didn’t want to completely out himself as a Coffee Meets Bagel user, said that when he first saw the notification, he thought that it was “a weird way to reclaim” the slur during gay pride. Then he realized it was Flag Day and caught on that it was a mistake.
About three hours after the notification went out, users received an e-mail from the company’s head of customer experience apologizing for the misspelling. It reads, in part:
“I would like to apologize wholeheartedly for the message you received this afternoon. The misspelling of Flag Day was a mistake and a complete oversight. We’re updating our process to ensure something like this does not happen again.
“Coffee Meets Bagel, as a company and as individual employees, celebrates the LGBTQ community and would never use such a word.”
Every day, users of the app get to see one person’s profile, which arrives at noon, along with a reminder to check out that day’s Bagel. They usually say something like: “I know you’re busy, but take a minute to check this Bagel out,” Kang says. Or: “Take a lunch break and check out this Bagel.” If it’s a holiday, that might get a reference. The company will be more eagle-eyed with the proofreading from now on, Kang says. “We’re doing what we can as a team to revisit our process,” she says. “We want to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.”