Modern love: AI is used for romantic messaging and scams

February 14, 2024
Valentines day AI

McAfee released its second “Modern Love” study, investigating the interaction between AI and romance as Valentine’s Day is upon us. 

They say romance is dead. Well, make what you will of the fact AI could be the third member of a love triangle you may not even know you’re in.

Key findings from McAfee’s survey of 7,000 people include:

  • Nearly 1 in 4 Americans use AI to enhance their online dating photos and content, but 64% would distrust someone using AI-generated photos in their profile.
  • 70% of people reported more interest and better responses with AI-generated content, yet 57% would feel hurt or offended by AI-written Valentine’s messages.
  • Only 24% of people are confident they can identify AI-generated messages, but 42% have encountered fake profiles or photos in the past year.
  • 38% of online daters use reverse image search to verify profile authenticity, and 60% research potential partners on social media.

There is a darker side to AI love, too, with McAfee finding a sharp rise in AI deep fakes on dating sites and social media:

  • 42% of people reported encountering fake profiles and/or photos that appear AI-generated on dating websites, apps, or social media in the last 12 months.
  • 20% observed fake profiles or photos on mainstream dating platforms.
  • 46% noticed fake profiles or photos on social media platforms.
  • 12% saw fake photos or profiles on specialized dating platforms.
  • 14% encountered fake photos or profiles on chat forums or communities.
  • 11% found fake profiles or photos on professional networking platforms.

And if that wasn’t enough, the study unveiled the types of data people were asked to disclose:

  • 20% were asked to share their work address.
  • 8% were asked to share their birth date.
  • 17% were asked to share their home address.
  • 29% were asked to share their phone number.
  • 8% were asked to share their salary information.
  • 10% were asked to share a social security number or something similar.
  • 23% were asked to share their occupation.
  • 25% were asked to share their email address.
  • 23% were asked to share an intimate photo or video.
  • 11% were asked to share account passwords (social media, banking, email).

AI has definitely become more effective at natural communication, with previous studies finding that AI-generated dating profile bios and messages can be more effective than the real thing.

Somebody even trained a machine learning model to predict women he’d be interested in with 85% accuracy

We’ve witnessed numerous incidents of AI being used to generate fake explicit images, recently including Taylor Swift. AI imagery has been used to blackmail women who have been victims of callous ‘sexploitation.’

Despite the mixed sentiments towards AI-generated content in dating, it seems effective. 

McAfee’s 2023 survey found that a majority, 69% of individuals, reported receiving more interest and better responses with AI-assisted content compared to their own creations. 

Alarmingly, 67% of adults back in 2023 admitted they couldn’t differentiate between a love letter authored by AI and one written by a human. McAfee didn’t research this for their 2024 study, but it’s sure to have increased. 

Steve Grobman, McAfee’s Chief Technology Officer, was keen to highlight this in 2023’s Modern Love report, stating, “With the rise in popularity of artificial intelligence, particularly tools such as ChatGPT that anybody with a web browser can access, the chances of receiving machine-generated information are on the rise.”

“While some AI use cases may be innocent enough, we know cybercriminals also use AI to scale malicious activity. And with Valentine’s Day around the corner, it’s important to look out for tell-tale signs of malicious activity – like suspicious requests for money or personal information.”

As AI continues to evolve and become more intertwined with daily life, we might find it helping – or hindering – our romantic relationships.

Just watch out for scams; AI is evidently making them more effective.

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Sam Jeans

Sam is a science and technology writer who has worked in various AI startups. When he’s not writing, he can be found reading medical journals or digging through boxes of vinyl records.


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