Tinder prank ‘tricked men into flirting with each other’

26 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A brilliant Tinder hack made hundreds of bros unwittingly flirt with each other.

Like other semi-anonymized digital spaces, Tinder creates a forum for individuals — namely men — to test the limits of aggressive and lewd behavior with seemingly little repercussion. It is a bleak landscape: women at the company have reported receiving a range of pick-up lines from the inane (“whats ur favorite beanie baby?”), to the bizarre (“Name a better song than Heartbreaker by the late Maria Carry” [sic]), to the gross and offensive and (“Those lips are so gorgeous that they make me wonder what your other set looks like”). More tech-savvy folks have actually dug into the app to automatically swipe right on every potential match, and then there are all the marketers that are tricking folks into chatting with a brand instead of a human. But over the last few weeks, a California-based computer engineer — we’ll call him Patrick — has pitted heterosexual male against heterosexual male.

The most recent hack, undoubtedly malign from Tinder’s point of view, makes for a good laugh to some, but a broader statement about humanity to others. But the Verge reports that a hacker recently set up a program that would use female dummy accounts to put heterosexual men into conversations with each other. Patrick’s program identifies two men who “like” one of his bait profiles (the first used prominent vlogger Boxxy’s image; the second used an acquaintance who had given Patrick consent) and matched them to each other. Using Tinder’s API, the programmer was able to channel messages from one unknowing man to another, with both parties in the conversation believing instead that they were talking to a woman. The suitors’ messages — some aggressive, others mundane, but all of them unabashedly flirtatious — are then relayed, back and forth, to one another through the dummy profile.

The notoriously vulnerable app has allowed hackers to reveal other users’ locations to within 100 feet, and to automatically “mass like” every user encountered. Patrick was a Tinder user (in fact, it’s where he met his current girlfriend) and says that female friends of his would often complain about the messages they received on Tinder. “The original idea was to throw that back into the face of the people doing it to see how they would react.” Initially, he set out to build a Twitter bot that tweeted every first message a female friend received, but then he looked into Tinder’s API and found it had little safeguard from more extensive tweaks. “Tinder makes it surprisingly easy to bot their system.

As long as you have a Facebook authentication token, you can behave as a robot as if you were a person.” The program made matches within minutes of activation; Patrick estimates he was overseeing 40 conversations within the first 12 hours. He developed code to scramble phone numbers and stepped in when a real-world meeting was imminent, but he also feels ambiguous about the ethics of the prank: “They ignore all the signs, they ignore all the weird things,” he says of the users. “When someone is so quick to meet up without any detail or know anything about the person at all — maybe it’s deserved.” Patrick’s exploit reveals the weakness of Tinder’s API — but also shows what happens when men’s desperation is turned on each other: some turn to anger, others are confused, and still others appreciate the humor of it.

Additionally, Apple’s massive “Fappening” hack proved that even the most sophisticated tech companies are just as vulnerable to attacks if not properly secured.

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