This New Algorithm Detects Fake Online Dating Profiles

Once upon a time, online dating was seen as something rather strange. However, time has seen it turn into a flourishing field in its own right, as shown by the fact that the Internet is now crowded with a wide range of online dating websites catering to a wide range of interested individuals. Naturally, this means that online dating has become rather lucrative, which in turn, means that there are a lot of malicious individuals out there who use such websites to scam people.

How Are Online Dating Scams Carried Out?

One of the bad things about online dating is that it has made it much easier for malicious individuals to pull off dating scams than ever before. First, this is because the Internet has made it much easier for such individuals to communicate with more people in more places than ever before, thus increasing their pool of potential victims by huge margins. This is important because most people can see through most scams under most circumstances, which is why scammers are reliant on numbers to make contact with someone who is susceptible to their scams for whatever reason. Second, it should be remembered that the Internet adds distance between the scammer and their potential victims, which makes it even easier for them to conceal their true intentions and true identities until it is too late.

With that said, online dating scams aren’t that much different from their offline counterparts. In short, the scammer will seek to build a relationship with their victim. Eventually, once the relationship has become strong enough, the scammer will seek out gifts as well as loans, which will continue until their victim becomes aware of what is happening. Recovering such sums can be rather challenging to say the least. Even worse, there are a lot of victims of online and offline dating scams who never reveal what happened to the authorities because of the sheer embarrassment of having fallen for such schemes. On the whole, dating scams are quite common. For proof, look no further than the fact that a single country such as the United Kingdom saw more than 3,000 victims with an average loss of about $14,600 in 2017. Never mind the other victims in other countries in other years.

How Did University of Warwick Researchers Come Up with a Way to Find Fake Online Dating Profiles?

Naturally, online dating websites and a wide range of other parties have a very strong incentive to keep online dating scams in check as much as possible. After all, it gives their entire field a bad reputation, meaning that it has a very direct negative impact on its operations.

As such, researchers at the University of Warwick have come up with an algorithm designed to seek out fake dating profiles in a great example of the sheer diversity of uses that machine learning is being put towards. Essentially, the algorithm has been trained on known fake dating profiles so that it can get an idea of what such profiles are supposed to look like based on factors such as bios, photos, and demographic information. After this training period, the algorithm was set loose on actual dating profiles to determine its capabilities at distinguishing real profiles and fake profiles, presumably becoming better and better as the researchers continue to provide feedback on its findings.

The exact success rate of the algorithm is unclear. The researchers at the University of Warwick have stated that just 1 percent of the dating profiles that it determined to be fake were actually real. However, that particular piece of information lacks a fair amount of context. For example, the researchers said nothing about the number of dating profiles that the algorithm was used to examine, meaning that there is a lack of context for its achievement. Likewise, the researchers said nothing about the percentage of fake dating profiles that were caught out by the algorithm, which once again, removes much-needed context for its accomplishment.

Summed up, the algorithm sounds impressive, but the absence of context makes it difficult to tell how impressed interested individuals should be. However, it seems safe to say that it will continue to improve as it continues to be trained, meaning that it will have a bigger and bigger impact on the field of online dating once it begins seeing practical use.


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