Bots. The bane or bliss of your existence, depending on who you are. I personally like bots. Bots are cool. They answer questions. They automate tasks. They can even make jokes. But I am not a bot. And neither are you.
Why all this bot talk? Because if there is one place that bots don’t belong, that’s in the world of dating. Call me a botist, but I believe humans should date other humans. Despite what many futurists may think, you can’t date a bot. (I don’t mind if bots date bots).
Dating is meant to be experienced - in person. With talking and touching, give and take - exploring each others peripersonal spaces as they expand and contract. Things you can’t do with a bot.
Recently, headlines in the US and EU have called attention to the perceived to be “commonplace” practice of using bots ie: fake users, to lure and engage users across dating apps.
In June armed guards raided 16 Lovoo offices. According to Global Dating Insights, “The prosecutors said the arrests were in connection with allegations that the company used fake profiles to lure customers into paying for the dating site’s premium service."
This week it was announced Ashley Madison, the cheating site infamously hacked in 2015, is the latest target of the US Federal Trade Commission. Ashley Madison is under investigation due to U.S. and Canadian class action lawsuits filed on behalf of customers whose personal information was posted online, and allegations that it used fake profiles to manipulate some customers."
This news should be doing two things: 1) Scaring many, many dating apps and 2) give hope to consumers as a sign of things to come. Yet this is no small mind shift. Growth hackers hired by start-ups even advocate fake users.
Since “swipe to like” brought about an explosion of dating app, there has been little to zero industry oversight. Sadly it appears consumers expect to have fake users as part of their experience. It’s something I'm forced to confront on a daily basis in reviews and complaints. I say confront because I do not nor have I ever practiced bots as fake users. That goes against everything I stand for and everything I believe in.
It kills me that humans expect to be manipulated and abused during what is such an intimate experience. What is more human that one’s desire to connect with others? Why would anyone want to compromise that for the sake of numbers? Global society continues to demand better in all categories of life - energy, education, civil rights - the same should be expected for the most intimate of things - one's love life.
So what are the values, standards and policies that exist within a global community as diverse and passionate as digital dating? In a world where 1 in 5 relationships start online in the UK and 1 in 10 in the US, what do you want your experience to be? Who’s values do you want in bed with you? I encourage you to ask those questions and make sure you’re treating yourself with respect.
Below are the values and policies to which I hold myself accountable on behalf of you, my lovely humans.
Feeld Core Values
A positive community
No abusive language
A reporting infrastructure that allows members to report other members and potentially have offenders kicked out
An algorithm that hides inactive users
No fake users
Validation via Facebook
Proactive guidelines and tools to identify and kick out potentially fake users
LAW enforcement alignment
Cooperate with law enforcement at any time it is deemed necessary. The safety of our members is a top priority
Feeld is only available to those aged 18 and older
These are my values. I encourage other apps and online dating sites to share theirs. And to the hundreds of millions of you who use dating apps, don’t be afraid to demand better in your search for love (or lust).