But if a would-be buyer signals an intent to purchase sex, the bot pivots sharply into a stern message.“Buying sex from anyone is illegal and can cause serious long term harm to the victim, as well as further the cycle of human trafficking,” goes one such message.
“Details of this incident will be reviewed further and you may be contacted by law enforcement for questioning.” The warning can vary based on the conversation, if, for example, a potential buyer expresses an interest in someone underage.
It harvests phone numbers from real online sex ads, and automatically sends messages to sex workers offering support or assistance getting out of the trade.
Responses are routed to an experienced nonprofit employee or volunteer.
So far, the chatbot has exchanged 14,000 messages with nearly 1,000 people who responded to the planted ads.
The new tools arrive as nonprofits and law enforcement devote more attention to stifling the demand that leads to sex trafficking.
Before long, 40 colleagues had joined to volunteer on the project.
Photo DNA is now used by more than 70 companies and organizations, including Facebook and Twitter.
“There aren’t enough detectives in the world to match the size of this market,” says Roe-Sepowitz.
Don’t expect the Microsoft tools to make a huge dent in demand overnight.