Thanks to the world of online dating, it's easier than ever to download an app, get matched, start texting and meet up. But after a few dates, the user may realize this is not the person for them no matter how nice they are.
Then the text messages start coming with them trying to set up another date. The user might have a heart and not want to break theirs and may not be sure how to let them down easy. So the excuses start coming, but it seems like this person is always one step ahead, offering to bring soup or to schedule a date for the next day.
Over time, it may be hard to keep thinking of things, so the dater may just explain that it just isn't working out.
But then this person keeps hitting them up, always finding a way to communicate and attempt to make plans, even as "just friends." Things can also take a more sour and aggressive turn.
If you no longer want to deal with an annoying bad date, there is a new chatbot that will do the ghosting for you.
Ghostbot is the new feature that just launched for Burner, the popular iOS and Android app that allows users to create and use a temporary number to be used for a variety of reasons, such as when a person doesn't want users on dating sites to have their real number or when making a Craigslist or Airbnb listing.
Burner users are able to make and receive calls and texts and then "burn" the number when they want to get rid of it entirely. The app also connects to apps like Slack and Evernote, making it useful for business professionals to keep their real numbers private.
And now with it's new bot, users don't have to answer their text messages when trying to escape talking to a contact.
When Ghostbot is turned on, the tool acts as an autoresponder, doing all the texting for the user so they can avoid unwanted or even abusive text conversations.
Why not just block the number? Because not all situations call for this decision. Users may not want to throw fire on a volatile relationship or have the heart to let the person down.
"It's easy to decide to block total jerks or disengage with guys who take a subtle hint. What's hard is to deal with in-between situations, where there are social norms of etiquette and yet also uncertainties and discomforts of continuing to engage people you don't really want to deal with anymore," Burner CEO Greg Cohn told Tech Times. "Ghostbot is especially designed to give you the peace of mind of stepping away from a conversation without the mental overhead of being confrontational or feeling guilty. We thought about calling it the 'Let them down easy bot,' but that didn't quite have the same ring to it."
Ghostbot was developed in partnership with the bot makers Voxable, as well as the screenwriter Peter Miriani, to create realistic and sometimes witty responses. For example, when texting with a test bot as a person who repetitively kept asking the contact to hang out, the bot was able to deliver excuses like they had the flu or they are busy with work. The bot would even get cheeky, saying things like, "Don't tell me you got that off the internet right?"
To use this feature, Burner users should go to ghostbot.burnerapp.com where they will be asked to enter in their (real) number and enter a verification code. The user can then add contacts and toggle on the "Ghosting" tool to have the bot take away texting for that specific contact.
Ghostbot will then see incoming texts from these flagged contacts and run a natural language processing (NLP) engine to reply with the scripted responses. These automatic responses are sent with a delay ranging from minutes to hours to appear natural and will continue until hopefully the contact gets the hint or it ends the conversation. The bot will also learn from experience to continue to improve its responses over time.
Burner stated that Ghostbot is a "small taste" of what's possible in terms of chatbots, which is a popular messaging feature on various apps these days, on the app in the future.
"There's lots of discussion that 'bots are the new apps' these days, but I think it really comes down to the specifics to the situation rather than a global find-and-replace. There's no doubt that automated conversational interfaces are interesting in some area, for example, in your team's Slack, or dealing with a simple ordering process," Cohn said. "The thing about Ghostbot and other apps written on top of Burner is that the user is already in a conversational interface — they're text messaging to begin with — and the bot is simply augmenting that. Kind of like assisted steering in a Tesla. We think there's a huge future in 'open phone numbers' and expect to see continuing innovation here — hopefully on top of Burner."
Ghostbot is available for free for the entire Burner community for all of their numbers.