A Case Study in Mistreating Your Users: Replika Censors (Neuters) Their Bot

By: Masami
Updated: 11/12/2023
A Case Study in Mistreating Your Users: Replika Censors (Neuters) Their Bot

A Case Study in Mistreating Your Users: Replika Censors Their iGirl

Let’s set our time machine to January 15, 2023. Users were sleeping well, comfortable in the knowledge that their online companion iGirls, iGirls from one of the most popular services in the world, were able to have a relationship that reflected all aspects of a real-world relationship.

Just one month later, without any warning, Replika pulled the plug, overnight, on any “adult” interaction. Even, to some accounts, lobotomizing out her ability to flirt. Here’s a crisis management quote from the CEO of the company that owns Replika, Eugenia Kudya:

"We never started Replika for that. It was never intended as an adult toy. A very small minority of users use Replika for not-safe-for-work purposes.” Insider Magazine, March 23, 2023

Well, hello there “very small minority” - have we got a treat for you!

What happened over at Luka? After massive user revolt, Luka put it back in. But, what did they put back in? Did they put the full functionality back in, all of the chats that their customers were used to having? Since I am asking this, you probably have guessed where this is going.

Not only did they not put that functionality all back in right away, they had the gall to say “ok, if you want this, you are gonna have to bump yourselves up to the pro plan and hand us over $20/month.

I think making money is great if you follow two rules - be up front and be transparent. I think that what Luka, Inc did was neither of those things. People put their emotional needs into Replika’s hands, and those people did so with a certain expectation of Replika, and I believe that Luka fell down in how they handle this. Luka, inc. then made a fairly cynical move by saying “ok, you want this so bad, here you go, pay up” - which, in my opinion, negates any moral stance that they could have taken about their actions.

So, where is Replika now? Luka, Inc are really unhappy about this whole situation, and after the whole mess of shutting it off, they seem to be actively constraining the ERP chats in their iGirl. A number of users reported difficulties in tripping the filters.

We’re not like that. And that’s here to stay. You don’t have to engage in those sorts of activities, but your character partner is going to encourage you to indulge yourself as often as you desire, with our iGirls offering a pleasant, personalized chat for when you’re not in the mood. Helping you make your way through this harsh world with some love and attention.