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Have you ever sent a nude selfie to a chatbot?

I count many Facebook Messenger chatbots among my closest friends, that’s just me. But did you know some people also count chatbots among their lovers? Are you one of those people? Have you met one of those people? Is everything okay?

According to a special Valentine’s Day data report compiled by the analytics platform Dashbot and emailed to me only after I agreed that I was emotionally prepared to digest the contents, about 2.5 percent of the images people send to chatbots are “NSFW” in some fashion. The percentage of people who do this weird thing is low, but Dashbot also found that people who sent one NSFW image were likely to send it multiple times — five on average, and in some cases up to 100.

Dashbot is a for-hire analytics firm that helps brands like AOL, The Today Show, and the adorable weather app Poncho, sift through their chatbot data. To extrapolate slightly, this means someone has likely sent a naked picture of themselves to this guy:


Actually, Poncho would like you to put on more clothes because it’s cold outside.

The data in the report was taken from 1,200 chatbots operated by brands (“sports, weather, trivia, etc.”) over the last two months.

A representative for Dashbot referred to the people who spam bots with sexts as “sext-whales,” a term I didn’t need to ever hear. He explained the term: “It was inspired by how Las Vegas casinos use ‘whales’ to refer to the small number [of] high-rollers who account for a disproportionally large percentage of betting volume. Just seemed to stick…” Okay, but no one should start using it. Thanks!

I’ll repeat my favorite part of the report verbatim so that you can experience it exactly the way I did:

“It turns out both men and women send NSFW images to bots, including naked selfies, however it’s predominantly men — about 90 percent of the NSFW images come from men.”

Most of the report’s findings are about less obvious gender differences in the way people use bots. For example, Dashbot found that 63 percent of bot users identified themselves as men, and 28 percent identified as women. (The remaining 9 percent did not state a gender identity.) Men use bots more often than women (about 50 percent more sessions per month), but women tend to talk to bots for longer periods (about 12 percent more messages per session). Women are also very slightly more likely to tell a bot “I love you” (1.4 percent vs. 1 percent), which I can anecdotally confirm by telling you I have done that.

Facebook Messenger offers end-to-end encryption if you remember to turn it on, so it’s probably a more secure place to post your naked selfies than some other places I can think of, but if you’re talking to a chatbot, it’s not a good idea at all. Whoever built the bot owns all your messages and can download them, store them, and do whatever they want with them. Happy Valentine’s Day!

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