How to Spot a Tinder Bot & Whether and When you Should Care

feels-like-spam-tinder-bot

While swiping your way through people’s profiles, you will undoubtedly come across the odd bot or two. Whether or not you should care will be the second part of this guide.

A bot in this context is a script that gathers as many matches as possible in order to send them spam with varying degrees of malicious intent. To accomplish this, they steal attractive people’s pictures for fake profiles.

Identifying Tinder Bots

Before Matching

There are many indicators that the beautiful person staring back at you from the top of your deck may not actually be a real person. Unfortunately, there are no 100% clear cut signs of a profile being a bot. Before matching, that is. Some details do come close to dead giveaways though.

Bot Signs:

Bot profiles come in all shapes and sizes nowadays. Most seem to consist of about 4 pictures and some nonsensical “inspirational” quote as a bio. There are plenty of real profiles that fit that description though, and many bot profiles can look quite convincing, including a long and apparently genuine bio.

What does not track, however:

  • Instagram handle spelled out in their bio. Often as the only content, but sometimes accompanied by a sentence or two.The only reason someone would spell out their Instagram account name instead of linking it – apart from being a moron – is that they don’t know the password of the account from which they stole the pictures for their bot profile.

NOT Proof of a Bot:

Basically most ‘Bot Signs’ you read about belong in this category, but foremost:

  • One-Picture profiles without bio or linked social media. These do not have to be bots. In fact, almost all bots I’ve encountered in the past year had more than one picture. Meanwhile, some of my best conversations and dates resulted from a right swipe on a bio-less profile with only one picture.More than likely, such a profile constitutes a test picture courtesy of Tinder’s “Smart Photos” function. If active, each of your pictures is placed into people’s stacks individually to rank how often they get swiped right on. Or so goes the (seemingly confirmed) theory.

NOT Proof of a Real Person:

As if all that weren’t enough, there’s also not many definitive signs of looking at a real person. Let’s dispel some of the common misconceptions of perception:

  • Shared Interests. This used to be proof of dealing with a human being, but for quite a while now, bot designers have gone the extra mile and added likes to the Facebook accounts of their creations; Usually consisting of the most popular movies and series.
  • Job and Education Information. Like FB likes, only requiring less effort to add, many bots have made something of themselves, completed a respectable education, and currently work in [current year’s] sexiest professions (according to some listicle. Number 5 will surprise you!).

Proof of Intelligent Human Life:

Don’t know what to believe in anymore? I feel ya. Luckily, there are still a few pillars of authenticity you may cling to.

  • Linked Instagram account. Though let’s be safe, and say Linked Instagram account with picturesof the same person as the profile pics.Thankfully, to this day, filling an Instagram account with stolen pictures, or actually contracting models to shoot has been too much work for our friendly neighborhood bot designer.
  • Linked Spotify account with top artists and/or anthem. Like the above, this still seems like just too much effort.

 

After Matching

As difficult and full of exceptions and grey areas pre-match bot identification may be, it gets very easy once you’ve matched with one. At least theoretically and in most cases.

It may happen a few minutes after you match, it may be a quick response to your first message, or it may happen days after matching, but sooner or later, a bot will send you a message. What kind will depend on the type of bot.

The current trend seems to be to wait a few days to consolidate matches and spam them all at once to get the most out of a bot account before it gets reported and banned.

The simple spam bot…

…will send you a (first) message with a link in it, a phone number, a snapchat account handle, or some other social media account name. Usually they want you to contact them there because they’re “not active on tinder”, or need you to “verify with this safe dating platform” so they feel safe.

The next steps will be providing your credit card details to “verify your identity, no charge”, or provide other personal details to be used for further scamming. Of course, it may also be a blatant link to a cam girl site.

As a rule of thumb, and this should go without saying: Never provide an unknown, fresh, aggressive online dating match with excessive personal information. Of course it’s a different situation if you’ve been chatting a while with a human and you’re about to meet up. Even then, I’d keep my credit card number to myself. Depending on the type of date.

The ad bot…

…is basically a glorified spam bot, created by some ad agency for the purposes of “viral marketing”.  At least the brand account nature behind the bot is usually readily apparent from the profile pictures and/or bio, and the maliciousness of the spam sent is limited to shilling you consumerist crap.

Ahem. And now a word from our sponsors…

[If you sponsored us, your ad would be home here.]

Moving on.

The chat bot.

Once all the rage, now a rare breed, by all (lack of) appearances: The chat bot may represent both of the above use cases, though the methodology differs quite a bot bit.

Because the inhuman nature of your pendant is not quite as readily apparent as with the one-message spam bots, this type of bot has been responsible for more than a few frustrating experiences.

It starts a “normal” conversation with you, usually opening with something along the lines of “hi, cutie”, “how you doin’?”, or simply “hi”. Next follows a short conversation that may or may not feel convincing, depending on how sophisticated the programming is (ever talked to cleverbot?). Very usually it’s just a script following a likely conversation path that probably hits home and comes across as natural in a small number of cases, but often enough to be worth the effort.

Usually after 5-10 messages you’ll get a text with the same kind of link or hook as described in the simple spam bot section.

If in doubt, ask about the color of the sky.

 

Alright, it’s a Bot. Now what?

In case you spotted a bot after matching, the answer is easy: Unmatch & Report as “Feels like spam”.

unmatch-and-report-tinder-bot

Before matching:

Many people seem to care a great deal about whether the profiles they’re swiping on belong to people or bots. And I get it, matching with bots can become frustrating. But should you really care? I think in most cases the answer is no. Why?

  • It takes much more time and effort to scrutinize profiles and weed out potential bots while swiping, than it does to unmatch and report a bot after it sends you spam.
  • You run a great risk of false positives. As detailed above, there are not many clear cut signs of dealing with a bot, and if you follow the common wisdom of what constitutes a typical bot profile, you’re gonna swipe left on a lot of actual people in the progress. You might miss out on someone great.
  • Matching with bots may or may not have a positive influence on your ELO score. Further testing is necessary for conclusive results, but chances are matching with a bot has a (temporary) positive effect on your score, and worst case that effect will vanish once the bot gets recognized as such and deleted. It is highly unlikely Tinder will punish you for failing to recognize a bot while swiping.

So unless you carefully consider each profile before swiping anyway, and you’re only dismissing 100% proven bots, I would recommend not paying the whole bot thing too much mind in all but one case:

If you are considering sending a super like, especially a paid oneI would definitely recommend making sure the profile in question exhibits neither a bot sign, nor should it lack clear signs of human life.

If you’re swiping in a particularly bot-rich area, and don’t have Tinder Plus, it might be worthwhile to scan for bots, to reserve right swipes for real people.

 

I hope you found this guide helpful. Thoughts? Criticism? Praise? Something to add? Feel free to leave a comment below, or visit the SwipeHelper Subreddit. See you there ?

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