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Ashley Madison Hack Exposes the Pervasiveness of Bots among Online Dating Sites

Online dating sites have been infamous for using shady tactics to attract new members, but the downfall of Ashley Madison revealed one particularly troubling trend: robots posing as attractive, desperate women. According to Rolling Stone, a vast majority of activity from female users on dating sites is computer-generated. In fact, a whopping 59% of all internet […]

Ashley Madison Hack Exposes the Pervasiveness of Bots among Online Dating Sites

Online dating sites have been infamous for using shady tactics to attract new members, but the downfall of Ashley Madison revealed one particularly troubling trend: robots posing as attractive, desperate women.

According to Rolling Stone, a vast majority of activity from female users on dating sites is computer-generated. In fact, a whopping 59% of all internet traffic, from dating sites to online poker, is generated by bots.

This deception was exposed last July when a team of hackers leaked internal memos from dating site Ashley Madison. The hack revealed the company’s widespread use of artificial intelligence programs, often known as bots, posing as real women.

The hack sent shock waves through the world of online dating, and industry experts say that Ashley Madison was not the only website that fooled paying members with automated messages from “sexbots.”

“They’re not the only ones using fake profiles,” said Marc Lesnick, organizer of iDate, the industry’s largest trade show. “It’s definitely pervasive.”

Now, more websites are selling their dating service on sincerity instead of sexuality. Online daters expect a comprehensive background check when signing up on a website, which few companies can actually provide.

Andrew Conru, founder and owner of dating app Adult Friend Finder, also prides his company on delivering a genuine dating experience. He claims that his company frequently checks user names and IP addresses to ensure that no bots fall through the cracks.

“It’s a daily slog, going through hundreds of accounts every day evaluating them and deactivating them,” Conru said. “It’s been a cat and mouse game for 20 years.”

While Conru and a few others may have been thwarting impostors for years, it wasn’t until the true scope of Ashley Madison’s dishonesty was revealed that the paradigm of online dating began to shift.

According to Gizmodo, approximately 20,269,675 messages were sent by just 43 bots on Ashley Madison. As for the number of messages sent by the 70,529 real women on the website? 2,409.

Pop-up messages from username “LonelyGirl43″ may never cease to exist, but the industry is taking some corrective action on the heels of the Ashley Madison debacle. Recently, the FTC fined UK-based JDI Dating $616,000 for flooding its site with phony profiles.

Most people now view online dating as the best way to meet people, and perhaps Ashley Madison’s slip-up was just what the industry needed to make some important changes.

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