Here, we document how intimate bots can get on dating apps – and how to avoid them
Dating apps are far from the perfection that many hopeful daters would hope them to be at this stage in the game. Problems range from catphishing to stalking and, if you are a woman, the overload of unwanted dick pics that have probably been sent your way, making what is already a frustrating experience even more so.
One of the more annoying sides of the online dating world is the predominance of bots out there trolling for hapless victims. A report from Incapsula showed that in 2013, 51% of web traffic was comprised of bots, with 60% of them programmed with malicious intent.
The purpose of many of these bots is to trick app users into clicking on links to outside sites, some of which contain viruses or can be used to steal information. The affair seeker’s website Ashley Madison was accused of mass producing female bots for engaging with men on their site, vastly inflating the number of women on their site to help keep male customers paying for their services.
In the best case scenario, they are trolling for traffic, which can still be a damper and time waster for someone who is on the hunt for love, or the next best thing.
These bots are all over popular apps like Tinder and OkCupid, mostly targeting men seeking women. Most of the time these bots use scripts that are supposed to be believable enough to convince the human on the other side to follow through on the action, although the results may vary.
One OkCupid user has decided to try and see how far he can push women who start chatting with his fake profile, basically running a flirty Turing test. The conversations often start off normal before veering off into the head scratching weird, but is mostly harmless as the responses are generated from Cleverbot. He chronicles his experiment on his Girls Who Date Computers.
While many younger users are aware that bots are out there, there is an added risk for the older generation of singles. Many senior users of dating sites and apps are unfamiliar with how the technology works, and can fall prey to some of the more harmful scams. The AARP has even posted an article on their site warning their members of the threat, providing some important tips on how to spot a bot that younger users could also benefit from.
If the miscreant behind the bot is putting any effort into their scam, then they will generally create a script that is both believable and corresponds to the text submitted by the human user. This should be similar to how a chat feature on a company’s website would respond when a real customer service person is not online. Ideally, it should be able to carry on a basic conversation without stumbling to hard.
However some scammers are just plain lazy and do not even go that extra mile. The gay men’s dating app Grindr has a bot that runs with the same train of texts, regardless of what the human says to it. The app is notorious for the high number of bots that have been able to get around both their blocking efforts as well as the distance radius that is meant to limit the number of profiles that show up according to the user’s specific location, opening chats with users in the U.S. as well as Israel.
Just a heads up that the bot gets a little graphic with their word choice here.
Dating bots can be annoying and in some cases very costly to their victims. A whole underworld industry has developed to scam the lovelorn out of serious cash. Security blogger Brian Krebs posted in January how a market has popped up for selling series of emails to fraudsters that are shown to work for running these scams, tricking people into thinking that they are helping to bring over a woman from Eastern Europe.
From the sidelines, it can be easy to laugh at some of these scams and wonder how anybody could ever fall for them. But when it comes to looking for love, we all have blinders that lead us to do stupid things, both on and offline. All of this makes me that much happier that I met my wife before the advent of dating apps.
So this Valentine’s Day, try to find someone who will love you back and has a brain of their own.