Great, Dating Apps Are Getting More Hellish Thanks to AI Chatbots

A group that claimed to be ex-Tinder employees thinks that tricking women into arranging meetups with an AI chatbot will help men get more dates.
Photo by Tara Winstead
Photo by Tara Winstead

A group claiming to be disenfranchised ex-Tinder employees gone rogue has built an app that uses AI chatbots to talk to women for men on dating apps, in an effort to combat the “disadvantages the average man” faces in online dating.

[Update 3/23/2023, 10:25 a.m. EST: Following publication, the group retracted their previous claims made on their website and in an interview with Motherboard that they formerly worked at Tinder, and stated, “We do not and have not hired any ex-Tinder engineers.”


12:55 p.m. EST: A spokesperson for Tinder told Motherboard: “Tinder has no evidence of CupidBot’s cofounders being former employees of Tinder or Match Group. We have no evidence of the bot being used on the platform at this point.”]

The app makes some big promises: For $15 a month beta access, users can expect to “get several dates a week by doing absolutely nothing,” according to CupidBot's website. The AI algorithm will “swipe on girls that are just your type and constantly works to get high quality matches,” and then a chatbot talks with the women, until they agree to go on a date and arrange a time and place to meet. The date then gets added to the CupidBot user’s calendar. 

Their algorithm, a spokesperson for CupidBot told Motherboard, is trained on individual users’ past matches and will only swipe yes on people who look like a user's pre-CupidBot matches. The app has been in private alpha development since February, and moved into public beta a few days ago. Motherboard bought beta access to the app, but after purchasing, received an email saying that we’re user #5,027 who have signed up for beta, and wouldn’t get access until March 31. 

The bot doesn’t disclose that it’s a bot, the spokesperson said, so matches can chat with a bot extensively before they have any idea it’s not a real human. “We do strongly advise our users to tell the women once they've gotten their contact information,” the spokesperson told Motherboard. “The data shows that the first few back and forths required to get a woman's phone number does not tend to be particularly memorable nor have any affect on a date occurring. What really skews the probability of a date is how you build rapport once you have her number.” They said that their goal is not to “saturate the app” with AI conversations, or to “objectify women,” but to “force Tinder to reevaluate how it operates and to facilitate the dating process for some people in the meantime.” 


A casual poll of women using dating apps for this story revealed that the first few conversational exchanges that happen on an app do actually matter to them, and help gauge what type of person this internet stranger is before agreeing to meet them in real life. But CupidBot thinks it can use AI to cut that part of the equation down to an algorithmic exchange. 

CupidBot is made with straight men—that terminally underrepresented group—as its focus. According to its website, the bot is founded by “a team of ex-Tinder engineers dedicated to enhancing the dating lives of men,” and promises that it will “match with girls that are just your type.” 

“We focus on the dating lives of straight men because they suffer most from dating apps. It takes immense time for the average man to scrape together even one date a month,” the CupidBot spokesperson said. “Although CupidBot can be used by anyone, we've built it with the average man in mind.” They added that while they think heterosexual men seeking heterosexual women are the “most disadvantaged” in Tinder’s structure, their tool could be applied to any dating preference.  

They told Motherboard that they weren’t expecting the app to go viral on Twitter, and have kept their names anonymous for now. “There are ethical considerations involved in what we've built, and we are not keen on attaching our names to a guerrilla side project just yet,” the spokesperson said. 

The founders of the app claim that at Tinder (they declined to provide any specific evidence that they did in fact work at Tinder) they felt frustrated by what they saw as their former company’s incentivization of online dating misery, especially for men. “Dating apps profit from continued engagement and thus do not, and cannot, put the best interest of users first,” a spokesperson for CupidBot told Motherboard. “This carefully designed system particularly disadvantages the average man seeking to meet women on real life dates. Given the real psychological impact that success in dating, or lack thereof, has on youths, and young men in particular, Tinder’s modus operandi is of net social detriment.” 

Men make up the majority of Tinder users (a claim the founders make that’s repeated by website statistics website Statista, but not officially confirmed by the company) and men and women have “large differences in behavior and motive,” CupidBot said, “many women tending to disproportionately favor the top 5% profiles and some using the apps as an elixir for validation, there is agonizing asymmetry in user experience.” They added that women tend to be more cautious users who take longer to decide whether to swipe right. 

Women also face disproportionate amounts of harassment on dating apps (and on the internet in general), including stalking and violent language, and are more likely than men to see dating apps as unsafe. But the founders of CupidBot think that hooking them up with a secret AI chatbot as a first impression will definitely be what turns guys’ game around on the apps.