Now here’s an interesting bit from this week’s news: Tinder, the popular mobile dating app, has suddenly been flooded with non-human user often referred to as bots. These bots seem to have one purpose, first conversing with the user but then they suddenly recommend a game called “Castle Crash”. Furthermore, they link to a “tinderverified.com”, further attempting to trick the user. Afterwards, the bots even hint at giving you their phone number if you beat them.
There are some ethical questions raised here that I would like to consider. For one, is it ethical to have bots masquerading as humans? What about on dating websites? Additionally, does Tinder have a duty to stop spammers?
In my opinion, it is unethical to have bots pretend to be humans. In general, when paired with someone on Tinder, the user expects to be able to have a conversation with a genuine human being. Applying act utilitarianism, this evolution from spam email causes the users and the creators of the service unhappiness, meaning that it is unethical. Additionally, rule utilitarianism has a similar outcome. If everyone used bots to spam each other, there would be less happiness. We could possibly also apply moral rights theory and say that people have a right to know who they are talking to, whose duties would say that you have to be honest about your identity. Following this, the spam is unethical as well.
Considering the question regarding Tinder’s duty to stop spammers, I think this is true. If people are creating misleading links using the Tinder name, this tricks users and could reduce their happiness. Seeing as I’m hinting toward another utilitarian perspective, we could regard Tinder’s action, or rather inaction, as unethical.
I look forward to comments!