Bot-cha: Cheat the Chatbots At Their Own Game

She’s hot. She’s chatty. And she’s down for more. Only problem is, “she” doesn’t exist.

She’s a bot.

Bots are a scourge flooding dating sites, manipulating lonely singles — usually male — into buying memberships or credits to talk to them. 2015’s hack of Ashley Madison, a site that promises to facilitate affairs for married members proved their existence. According to Rolling Stone, it “revealed the widespread use of sexbots — artificially-intelligent programs, posing as real people, intended to seduce lonely hearts… into paying for premium service.” The article goes on to say, “of the 5.5 million female profiles on the site, as few as 12,000 were real women — allegations that Ashley Madison denied.”

While it’s doubtful anyone is using using Ashley Madison to find love, bots also have wormed their virtual way onto regular dating sites and apps. Several of my male friends have complained about matching with a woman on Tinder, only to be offered The Girlfriend Experience, or GFE, because the “woman” is actually an escort.

Bot profiles tend to follow a few rules: few pictures, little to nothing written in their profile, and they want to chat right away. They’re flirty from the start and relentless in trying to continue the conversation.

So how can you tell if you’re chatting up a bot? Well, you can put “her” to the test. Fusion offers several methods: “For instance, if you say, “I love jkhfkdjh,” the bot might respond, “What do you love about jfhfkdjh?” simply repeating the phrase back to you. A human would likely respond, ‘WTF?’…Another tactic is to ask the bot to spell words backwards, or to use a lot of pronouns like “it.”

Or you can avoid the conversation entirely and check the fine print in the terms and conditions. Techworld says several of the most popular dating sites, including eHarmony and OKCupid, disclose the use of fake members ostensibly in order to test the service. And “Plenty of Fish, with three million active users daily, states: ‘This site is an entertainment service.’”

That’s not to say you won’t meet a genuinely great lady on these sites. If someone catches your eye online, you can avoid wasting your time by using a few common sense measures. First, make sure she has at least 4 or 5 pictures in a variety of settings. And don’t just rely on pictures to seal the deal. READ HER PROFILE. Check for details that add up to a real person — does she have hobbies? Pets? Items on her travel bucket list?

Use these details to start a conversation with her. If it flows well and you feel a spark, it’s time to take it offline and ask her out on a real date. It’s the only true way to test your chemistry, the kind a bot could never provide.

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