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I recently had the high honor of conversing with some teenaged American zombies. One of them boasted to his friends of a “girlfriend” he “met” through an App. He indicated the relationship was getting serious despite the 2,000 miles(!) between the pair. I casually mentioned the three very real girls seated nearby, the presence of which the boys seemed oblivious. Over the pecking of screens, I don’t think they heard me.

The sad news, if this isn’t all sad enough, is that the California dream girl on the App might not even be a real girl. Or even human.

Steve Dean, an online dating consultant, says the person you just matched with on a dating app or site may not actually be a real person. “You go on Tinder, you swipe on someone you thought was cute, and they say, ‘Hey sexy, it’s great to see you.’ You’re like, ‘OK, that’s a little bold, but OK.’ Then they say, ‘Would you like to chat off? Here’s my phone number. You can call me here.’ … Then in a lot of cases those phone numbers that they’ll send could be a link to a scamming site, they could be a link to a live cam site.”

Malicious bots on social media platforms aren’t a new problem. According to the security firm Imperva, in 2016, 28.9% of all web traffic could be attributed to “bad bots” — automated programs with capabilities ranging from spamming to data scraping to cybersecurity attacks.

As dating apps become more popular with humans, bots are homing in on these platforms too. It’s especially insidious given that people join dating apps seeking to make personal, intimate connections.

Please note that these bots are not the kind that looks like Scarlett Johansson. It’s just code in a phone some bum uses to con you out of a dollar. Ignoring real girls + Tinder bots = extinction-level event?