Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, and if you’re scrambling to get a date you may find yourself scrolling through Match.com or swiping right on Tinder. Millions of people are doing the same thing, but are all these prospects real people?
Let’s say you’re a member of a dating website and hit it off with “Joe Goldberg.” You’re flirtatiously texting back and forth when suddenly the replies stop coming. Turns out “Joe” isn’t a real person. You’ve just been ghosted by a bot.
Yes, not only can you be rejected on a dating site by a human, but by non-humans, too. Ouch.
How Bot Ghosting Works
Dating websites generate revenue through memberships. But in order to keep those memberships flowing, they need to provide people with potential romantic connections. The clincher: not all of those potential connections are real. Some bots are programmed to get you to upgrade to a paid membership where you can continue the conversation you started.
Ghosting happens when a person suddenly stops replying. You’re left wondering what went wrong, and in an effort to keep the spark going, you might decide to upgrade your membership to continue the romance. It’s all about the chase, right?
When it comes to dating sites, fake profiles are nothing new. Little did you know, included in the dating site’s terms and conditions is the right for them to create fake profiles to enhance the experience, encourage interaction, and monitor compliance by members with the terms of service of the site. Chatbots are one way to foster interaction.
When Ghosting Goes Wrong
Back when dating sites first started, many were blatantly participating in fake profiles (and ghosting) without customer consent. The FTC ended up getting involved and it wasn’t a pretty picture for JDI Dating. JDI, who ran the 18 sites that were committing fraud, was required to pay $616,165 in refunds to customers.
After this incident, dating sites got smart. They wisely bet most customers wouldn’t read five plus pages of terms and conditions. The sites started slipping the legalese into the Terms and Conditions figuring people would skip reading and just click accept.
Related Post: Terms and Conditions: Think Twice Before Clicking Agree
However, by agreeing to these terms, you’re allowing yourself to be ghosted by a bot. It’s another example of why you should always read the fine print.
Signs You’re Speaking to a Bot
Now that you know there’s a chance it’s not you, it’s a bot, here are a few signs to look for:
Speedy Response. Humans are busy. Although our smartphones are like another appendage, we’re not always able to answer within seconds or even minutes. While there’s a chance your potential love connection is over the moon and chatty, if they’re rapid firing paragraphs back within seconds, run.
Related Post: Dating App Fraud: Why You Need to Swipe Left
Forgetful Memory. This one can be a little difficult to spot. Again, we’re so busy that sometimes it can be hard to even remember what we consumed for breakfast. However, if you’re constantly being asked the same questions, odds are you’re speaking to a bot.
Dull Profile. Their profile might not look as genuine or personalized as a real account. Rather, the profile may be vague, including minimal information or just a few pictures.
Asking for Money. Whether they’re doing it subtly or bluntly, never send them money. Now, this could be an outright scam artist, but it could also be a bot. If they send you over a link, stop the conversation immediately.
Some Bots Just Want You to Find Love
Of course, not all bots are bad. Some actually want you to find love. Match.com is just one site that decided to give this a try. Their chatbot named Lara now lives on Facebook with the intentions of helping you find love. She can help you create your dating profile all through Facebook Messenger.
Lara takes your information (e.g. hobbies, likes and dislikes, astrological sign) and gives you suggestions on a good match. She sends over the potential soulmate’s profile and picture all within your convo. Talk about convenient.
Related Post: How Good Bots Can Benefit Your Brand (And Fight Fraud)
These are the good kind of bots. And dating sites are still a great way to join the game of love. Many people even find their soulmate on them. However, there are also malicious bots looking to break your heart (and take your money).
Be careful and remember to keep your guard up. You don’t want to end up ghosted by a bot.