A friend recently came to me with a problem: He was chatting with a sexy blond woman on Tinder and couldn’t tell if she was a real person.
For the past two days he had been talking with her under the assumption she was a carbon-based life form, but then he started to question her responses.
It’s not that she was spamming him with promotional links or trying to get him onto a camgirl site—but her answers were curt, plus she asked a lot of questions.
For the uninitiated, chatbots are computer programs that have been designed to simulate conversation with humans—and they’re everywhere.
Bots now account for 61 percent of web traffic, meaning so many are crawling around the internet they’re creating more traffic than humans.
Odds are you’ve interacted with one, perhaps while complaining to IBM’s customer service department or perhaps while tweeting at someone. For many people, however, their primary experience with bots comes from Tinder and other online dating sites, especially if you’re a male looking for a female.
These sites have long had a problem with bots posing as humans—beautiful, friendly, flirtatious humans, complete with photos and profiles.
Some dating sites employ bots to make their user numbers look higher, or to make their male-female ratio seem more balanced, Isaac Silverman, the founder of the online dating app Teased, explained to me.
Or, on the flip site, bot creators might heavily these sites thanks to the volume of people they can reach.
“You have apps like Tinder, where you are unlimited on swipes and matches (at least with Tinder Plus today).
These would seem likely very bot-vulnerable, because a bot can like a large number of users and generate a large number of matches,” he said.
Once you match with a bot on a dating site, it might try to sell you an online game (see the Castle Clash fiasco), lure you to a pornographic site, or generally convince you to sign up for something you probably don’t want or need.
Usually the bots are pretty obvious in their endeavors. With no sales pitch and definitely no “Hey, I’m a bot!
” responses, would you be able to tell the difference?