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boy bye

The ‘Boy Bye’ chatbot will help you swerve creepy dudes

Let that relentless guy who sends ten ‘you up’s and filtered dick pics chirpse the bot with sharp clapbacks and a mission to fund Planned Parenthood

Sometimes guys at the bar/bus stop/one time on my actual doorstep can’t take no for an answer when they’re scourging the entirety of the female population for digits. From there begins an awkward tangle of monosyllabic answers to four “you ups?”, ghosting spates met with red rage and unsolicited dick pics. But no worries, Boy Bye Bot is here to help in the sweet rejection of creeps.

It harkens back to the days of Jonah and Chelsea Peretti’s Rejection Hotline from 2002, a number you could dole out and that, when called up, would play a rejection message. The 2017 reboot is 1-626-GOODBYE (unfortunately only available right now for U.S users), programmed to give sharp-tongued clapbacks to explicit chat/emojis, play the long never-in-your-dreams game or ask pursuers to donated to Planned Parenthood. As it states on its website, the bot is ‘fake number for real fuckbois’.

Boy Bye Bot's website logs some of the funniest, disturbingly aggressive and ridiculous interactions the bot has undertaken. Elequent reactions include ‘you’re creeping me out’, ’girl quit playing’ and ‘you is a ho...nothing classy bout u’. It’s the brainchild of Chicago-based comedian Hassan S. Ali, who told us more about the digital fuckboy repellent.

What gave you the initial idea for the bot?

Hassan Ali: I was hanging out with some female friends, and the conversation somehow turned to all the ridiculous, crude, insanely inappropriate messages they get on Tinder or on text from dudes. This (sadly) isn't a new thing women have had to endure. But since lately I've been working with chatbots, an idea suddenly struck: what if you could hand these fuckboys off to a chatbot that sorted them out? Also, I had just watched Beyonce's “Sorry” music video and that may have inspired some thinking – lyrics include ‘Tell him boy bye’. We all workshopped the idea right there in the room. The goal was to make something entertaining but that also had some utility and practical function.

How did you go about creating it?

Hassan Ali: I made a chatbot last year that simulated texting with Drake and have since been addicted to bots. As with that one, I used a bot-making platform called Dexter (http://rundexter.com) in combination with an SMS service called Twilio (twilio.com). I'm a comedy writer, not so great of a programmer, but thankfully the Dexter platform (along with the team there, shout out to David Hu) helped with most of the complicated backend stuff.

What do you think of the interactions the bot has engaged in so far?

Hassan Ali: Doing this project has opened my eyes to all the crap women put up with from the male gender. I mean, I've always known that. But seeing some of these texts with my eyes was another level. A lot of it is just, "ugh, really dude??? You think that's going to get a girl to like you?", but some of the stuff is unrepeatable. So yeah, while 50 per cent of it is funny to read through these hilarious interactions, 50 per cent is also, “Wowww. This is super sad”. I have the privilege of being a 250-pound guy and, say, not knowing what it's like to be catcalled while walking down the street. For me, this has been a tiny window into what women have to deal with on a regular basis.

Has it got caught out yet? Are most dudes as relentless as you can imagine?

Hassan Ali: To be fair, most of the interactions are fairly benign and just corny. Guys trying awkward pickup lines and smalltalk. Stuff I'm probably guilty of texting in my past, as well. Then like 25 per cent of the texts are pretty graphic and inappropriate. Society, amiright?!

What are its useful responses, and are there specific triggers or is it random? How did you come up with those?

Hassan Ali: There are a bunch of responses asking the guys to donate to Planned Parenthood. That was an idea from one of my female friends who thought it'd be funny to combat dick pics with incessant requests to donate to female-centric causes. There are also quite a few responses that include links to fuckboy-related stories on the sites Jezebel and Reductress. Besides those, there are silly responses and even mini-games – the bot asks what cheese is your favourite, and based on your reply, the conversation will go down different paths about different cheeses.

The triggers are 75 per cent tied to specific inputs (so for instance if a guy texts in an eggplant emoji, there will be a specific response tailored to that). Then the remaining 25 per cent are random, but they're written in such a way that they could seem kind of specific. It was a writing challenge, but a fun one. Thankfully, I had a great group of those female friends to brainstorm with, as well. My favourite reply that's in there is: “I should put you in my phone as Thermostat, because you're so hot and cold.” Always cracks me up.

Any reactions from people who've tested it so far?

Hassan Ali: Since the bot has been getting some press attention, a good number of people testing it are, in fact, women! They're taking it for a spin and checking it out. Some of the replies they've texted in: “:ol this number is gold.” , “I’ll be using this in the future to ward off the fuckboys” , “HAHAHAHA I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. Thank you creators, you are doing god’s work”. 

As for the guys, I think I can sum it up using one guy's text reply: "Whatever. Fuck this."