Bumble has introduced a “ghosting vow”, while Badoo has brought in reminders to reply to messages after three days.
The innovations are marketed as ways for apps to “crack down” on ghosting, with Badoo even offering pre-written responses that a user can use to gently let someone down if they’re not interested.
These features can also be read as cynical attempts to drive engagement, however, and this is the angle taken by the respective authors.
Alex Hern writes in The Guardian that apps are “sending little notifications to persuade users to open the app, boosting figures such as DAU (daily active users) just in time for the quarterly earnings calls.”
Hannah Ewens writes in Vice: “This (…) is a drive to stop single people leaving apps in droves because Silicon Valley bros need the revenue. Let’s face it, real connection is hard to find on the current apps and that is the problem developers have on their hands.”
Both journalists compare the anti-ghosting features to Gmail. Ewens suggests the scripted responses are “clinical and robotic”, reminiscent of Gmail Smart Reply. Hern argues that the new Gmail “nudges”, which suggest an old message needs a response, are also engagement hacks.
Claire Stott, Badoo’s in-house dating expert, said: “Ghosting has been going on forever, but apps have expanded the dating pool and created more opportunities for people to meet. Therefore the chances of being ghosted are higher.”