Latest Tinder Hack Matches Straight Men For Awkward Flirting

Photographed by Mark Iantosca.
Navigating the digital dating world is hard enough without having to worry about whether you're talking to a real person or a robot. But, that threat is real: In the past month alone, three instances of catfishing have cropped up on Tinder — and one of them is pretty funny.

A hacker used Tinder's API to trick straight men into thinking they were chatting with women, when they were actually messaging other men. The hack made a match when two men both Liked the same fake female profile, and then their flirtatious messages were sent back and forth using the "woman's" account as a go-between. The code scrambled users' phone numbers, and the hacker stepped in before an in-person meeting actually took place. The Verge reports that there were about 40 instances of seriously confused flirting in the first 12 hours, and it has some highly entertaining screen grabs of the chats. 

This isn't the first time Tinder users have unwittingly chatted with a bot. Earlier this month, SXSW attendees discovered that when they were matched with a 25-year-old brunette named Ava, they were actually participating in promotion for the artificial intelligence movie Ex Machina

And today, The Verge uncovered another far larger-scale catfishing scheme taking place on Tinder. A hacker called (appropriately) Catfi.sh is managing 20 dummy profiles in the U.S. and the U.K. While it's now functioning as another prank on Tinder's straight male population, the bot was originally created so that other guys would talk to girls on its maker's behalf. When a woman Liked a Catfi.sh profile, a male Tinder user would then be looped in. If the conversation was verging on a real date, the hacker would step in and take over. Besides being super-creepy, it wasn't very efficient, so Catfi.sh decided to just start hooking up straight men with other straight men, instead. Good news for the ladies, at least. 

Since launching just after Valentine's Day,  the hack has caught 10,000 male users sending 100,000 messages to the bots. And, 200 new users get duped by the dummy accounts each day, which translates to roughly 2,500 messages being sent. In this case, phone numbers were not scrambled, so the hacker guesses that his shenanigans have resulted in a handful of very confused in-person meetings. 

Rosette Pambakian, Tinder’s VP of corporate communications and branding, told The Verge that, although this kind of violation poses no security threat, Tinder takes them very seriously and will take action against accounts that deceive users. Tinder is also planning to bolster its anti-spam filters. This sounds like good news to us, because while the idea of horny guys unwittingly flirting with one another is humorous, we wouldn't want to be at the butt end of that joke, either. 
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