For lots of singles, dating apps have grown less appealing by the day. What used to be a novel tool to help spark a genuine connection in an increasingly online world has become a mindless scroll through fish pics and Snapchat filters, weirdly invasive prompts and inscrutable bios that might as well have been written by a Russian bot or ChatGPT. Lately, it’s the latter that’s especially got the swiping community on edge, as more people enhance their profiles with AI and rely on services that promise to improve their chances of finding love with the help of a chatbot. But that technology seems to be doing more damage than good, as new studies show the vast majority of dating app users view AI-generated profiles as a serious turn-off.
Across the spectrum of dating apps, AI is already used in a number of ways that generally improve user experience, like streamlining the matchmaking process and authenticating profiles. But the use of AI tools like chatbots, which are meant to enhance — and ultimately misrepresent — an individual’s conversational skills, are another cause for concern among singles. A nationally representative study commissioned by new app Fast Forward Dating found that 83% of people in the United States are actively turned off by the idea of matching with someone who used AI tools to craft a profile, while 29% described it as a major red flag and 32% considered it “a form of deceit and a deal-breaker.”
For their part, Fast Forward Dating offers a video-based alternative to the “static” profiles of apps like Tinder and Bumble that the founders hope will eliminate the possibility of infiltration by AI and bots, allowing users to “fast-forward” to “the real-life person as they respond to fun and thought-provoking prompts.”
While the exact numbers of folks using machine learning algorithms in their dating profiles is unknown, more cases have cropped up in the last six months as the technology has become more accessible to the general public. Last month, a particularly weird bunch of Hinge profiles — all named Andy, but with different photos — went viral on Twitter when a Vox journalist posted screenshots wondering if they were AI-generated. Each profile responded to the prompt “A random fact I love is…” with the identical and bizarre phrase: “I like everything about culture.”
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The journalist captioned her post: “What is this? Are they bots? Is it AI? Why are they all named Andy????? Please someone tell us what is going on.”
The same survey indicates that dating apps are falling out of favor in more ways than one, with 80% of app users reporting that they’ve had some kind of negative experience during a swipe session. Whether it was the 36% who came across fake profiles, the 33% who saw deceptive photos, the 32% who were scammed or the 22% who reported “uncomfortable or dangerous encounters,” the app world has enabled some shady behavior and made some users feel further than ever from finding the meaningful relationships they’ve been craving.
As The New York Times reported in May, several Millennial women have vowed to give up the apps this summer to instead focus on their platonic relationships and leave the romance up to “the will of the universe.” Vinessa Burnett, a 28-year-old human resources program manager in Dallas, told The Times that she decided to shed the apps in January when she read another story commemorating and reflecting on the last decade of dating app culture. “It dawned on me, like, ‘Wait, I actually downloaded Tinder in 2013,’” she said. “So I’ve been there from the beginning, and I’m still single.”
And while the brave new world of online dating isn’t so new anymore, it sure takes guts to continually put yourself out there when faced with the growing number of bots and scammers descending upon our swipe-sphere. But what did we expect, all those years ago, when we first turned our love lives over to the tech industry, which worships at the altar of optimization and efficiency? AI profiles may be offensive to some, but the truth is, dating app dating has never been sacred, it’s just been convenient. Maybe it’s time we all ditched our phones and went back to picking up dates at bars like they did in the Middle Ages.