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This Dating App Fights Scammers With Bots… Happily Ever After – Technology Flow

You know the feeling; You’re on a dating app and you strike up a conversation with someone and things don’t seem to quite add up. You watch The Tinder Swindler on Netflix and you suddenly wonder: Is someone going to ask me for money? The team at video dating site Filter Off decided to take an innovative approach: each detected scammer was added to a side-pool of dating hopefuls, which consisted only of their own chatbots posing as adorable singles and other scammers. As you can imagine, hilarity ensued.

As a platform, Filter Off is a video-first dating app that launched at the start of the COVID-19 lockdowns. As dating moved away from bars and galleries and picnics to become more chat- and video-first, the company began offering virtual speed-dating events of various themes; Harry Potter date night, dog lover’s date night, New York City date night – you name it. The platform has hundreds of thousands of users, and as its popularity grew with humans looking for love, the founders found it also attracted a second set of people — humans looking for money.

“The first time I noticed there was a problem was when I saw that George Clooney had joined the filter off. I was like, ‘Holy shit, this is wild, I can’t believe it…’ But then I took a closer look at his profile,” laughed Brian Weinreich, head of product at Filter Off, in an interview with Technology Flow. He realized that Clooney probably wasn’t on a dating site, and if he was, he was in Nigeria. Not the 34-year-old from Lagos. “I deleted their profile to get them off the app. Then I started noticing all these profiles that looked like real people, but they were all these different profiles, they didn’t add up.

The product team decided to try to solve the problem with algorithms and created software that sorted users into humans and “based on certain characteristics that I started to notice, how people use the app” that they were more likely to be a scammer. The team keeps deleting profiles, but for every scammer they take down, five more pop up in their place, Medusa-style.

“I think we need a way to get rid of the scammers, OK, but it has to be in a way that they can’t come back and rejoin the platform,” Weinreich said. “I remember Reddit and other platforms having a form of ‘shadow banning’ where users keep posting, but regular users can’t see their content.”

That’s how the work started. The team used GPT-3 to create several chatbots, combined with a script that generated human faces to create several fake profiles. Warning: These profiles are not visible to “normal” users, only people the algorithm has determined are scammers. They put them in a pool of thousands of bots that look and talk like real people.

“TThe funny part about him is that two things happen. One is that scammers run into other bots, but they also run into other scammers and they’re trying to scam each other,” Weinreich laughs. “They’re like, ‘I want $40 for a Google Play gift card,’ and the other scammer is, ‘No, you give me a gift card.’ me‘ And they kept arguing. It’s just this hilarious thing, right now on our app, over 1,000 scammers that I know are actively talking to just bots. It’s very good. They are wasting their time and they don’t need to deal with our real users.

The platform has report and block features where genuine users can report potential scammers. When reported, the team improves their algorithm and manually places scammers in the pool of bots.

“TOne of the funniest things about our report feature is the number of reports I get from people reporting scammers talking to a bot. I was like, ‘Yeah, I know, that’s the point,'” Weinreich shrugs.

The company has collected some of the inappropriate conversations scammers have had with each other and with bots on its own blog, which is also worth a skim.

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