Getting messages on social media is fun.
"Ooh!" you say to yourself. "Who has done slid in my DMs?"
And then, if you're like me, you excitedly open the message, only to read:
"I am a single mom, I enjoy sun tanning, movie dates, going clubbing. fishing, hunting, and swimming. building cars."
That's a message I received three months ago on SoundCloud from an account that's since been deleted, but at the time had some popular woman's name like Mary, Lisa or Sarah. In fact, in the last year, I've received almost 10 of those messages, soliciting my sexual expertise in exchange for a click of a very suspect, very sketchy link.
"I love cinema, horror films, good food, knitting and writing the story."
"I am Sandy and I love dancing in a very sxxy way!"
"HELLO MY DEAR!!! IM TANYA* I have a great big breasts that I can suck FOR YOU AND SEXY ass. Wet pussy."
It's not just SoundCloud — sex bots like those ones are all over social media, especially Twitter, which has had problems with fake accounts for years. In fact, if you pin a Tweet to your profile, odds are it'll get retweeted by some half-nude, completely computerized woman begging for your attention. Their names are alternately generic and nonsensical, and their tweets are nonexistent — save for one that tells you to click a mysterious link to see their naughty photos or send them a message.
So why are we being sexually harassed by robots online?
The same reason your grandparents still complain about email. Despite the new appearance, sex bots are playing the oldest game on the internet: spam. Those links that promise scandalous, saucy encounters with mysterious internet vixens are actually attempts to steal information, install malware and spread the bots to other users. It's the same type of online scam they've been warning about since elementary school computer class — "Don't click on unknown links! Don't trust strangers online!"
The only difference is, now, the spam is designed to prey on the horny masses. While a Nigerian prince scam or password change fishing operation might be enough to fool some of the internet's less savvy users, scammers have apparently decided the best way to millennials' passwords is through their genitals. And, if the sheer number of these accounts on social media are any indication, it might be an effective one.
So what are social media networks doing to combat this pain in the very sexy robotic ass?
SoundCloud has taken to deleting inactive accounts and those it suspects of being illegitimate, which is why all the accounts that sent me messages have since been deleted. But with that proactive approach comes flaws in the user experience — accounts, even real ones, now have limits on how many tracks they can like and repost within a period of time. In 2014, Twitter created a software called BotMaker to help get rid of its bot infestation. However, the number of faux accounts on the site and the software's reliance on human users reporting suspicious accounts makes it difficult for Twitter to keep up with the ever-evolving technological side of sex spam.
So as companies struggle to keep the army at bay, it's up to users to remain vigilant and practice safe sex on the internet. While surfing the web, don't interact with suspicious accounts, don't click on strange links and, when you can, report likely bots.
And always, always wear a condom while online.