I think it is a reasonable thing to do to.... give people a response, which is what they are looking for.
Frankly, I think people read WAY too much into all this. "The AI was asked on a date" "the AI was abused".... fuck, have none of these people ever spent an hour with ELIZA? Within about 5 minutes it becomes a game of "What can I get it to say?"
People are playing with a toy looking for a response....any response works. A response which acknowledges what they are doing, in any way, is exactly what most were probably looking for.
If anything, this would encourage the behaviour because "look, she talks back too..."