Welcome To BotSpace

Another day, another MySpace post. I don’t mean to keep picking on the wildly successful social networking site, but just now, I saw a banner ad which really made me wonder what’s going on over there.

Five minutes ago, at the top of my MySpace profile page, I noticed a large ad for a site called “MySpaceBot.com”. The impressive collection of testimonials fading in and out across the bottom of the ad piqued my interest. A screenshot is below:

Whoa! I know this century is only six years old so far, but “the most powerfull [sic] marketing tool this century”? I had to have a look. Interestingly, the banner led to a site called “Friendbot.com”. Friendbot sells a product that — get this — specifically evades MySpace’s security procedures and performs all sorts of automated actions around the site. Here’s a sample of what evil Friendbot can do:

  • Evades CAPTCHAS put in place by MySpace to curb spam
  • Imports entire friend lists from anyone inside of MySpace
  • Sends automated friend requests that appear to be human-generated
  • All sorts of other evil bottish things

Here’s an interesting line from their FAQ:

Will I be banned from MySpace.com for using this program?

No you will not. But if by some miracle you manage to get banned, do not come blame us.




This whole Friendbot thing was starting to seem weird to me, so I dug a little deeper.


I looked up MySpaceBot.com on Whois and found them to be registered in Sweden. Additionally, two other URLs associated with them — myspacefriendbot.com and friendbot.com — were registered in San Francisco and New Jersey accordingly. I’m going to say this operation is foreign, however, based on the powerfull copywrighting and tons of other grammatical errors around the site. (By the way, Swedes, I know you’re a very smart bunch… I think these people live in your sewers though).

I then typed “myspacebot.com” into a browser, and was taken to a gateway page asking me if I wanted to go to myspace.com or friendbot.com. The page clearly spelled out that Friendbot was not associated with MySpace and I was immediately reminded of an article I read in Wired about how MySpace was going after sites because of TOS violations and unauthorized use of the MySpace trademark in URLs. The same had likely happened here, but why would MySpace let this company advertise on their site if that was the case?

Heading on over to the Friendbot “support forums” I found this nice post from the administrator “Kimberly”:

Subject: We have NOT sold your informaion

Message: We know some of our customers received an email saying we had sold their information. We would just like to say that we have NOT sold your information, Silent Productions hacked our database and lied to our customers in order to better his own business gains. We have allready fixed this vulnerability and have reported this to the U.S. FBI and would appreciate all help you can offer us in the persecution of this criminal. Thank you.

And another:

Subject: Latest News!

Message: Dear Users, I regret to inform you that our CEO Jeff Wiesman was injured beyond all scope of working. Myspace changed their coding on Friday and before we could coordinate a release Jeff disappeared. His lawyer called the office after half a week and finally informed us of what was going on.

We are here now to inform you that the searching function of the bots is not working because of the new myspace coding. There is allready a versions in developement that will be supporting the new change in code. We apologize for the time it has taken to get our users informed on this situation as we have just received this information ourselves. There is a huge line of support tickets to be answered

if you have sent a ticket in the last few days it will be a day or two before we get too you, if you have not sent a ticket please do not send any regarding this matter as this will only slow down technical support. Thank you for understanding and sorry for the inconvenience.

Number one, this all seems like a scam to me. Number two, this shatters my long-standing opinion that Swedish girls named Kimberly can’t possibly be evil.

With all of this suspicious material on the company’s own site, I decided to Google them and found this O’Reilly article referencing the original MySpace spamming software that this software was built upon. Apparently, back in December, MySpace sent the original author of this program a cease and desist letter demanding he stop selling his software which helps users violate MySpace’s Terms of Service.

So it turns out this *is* malware, it definitely violates MySpace’s Terms of Service, and from the looks of “Kimberly’s” ramblings above, it may even be a bit of a scam.

So I guess I have two questions then:

  1. If MySpace cares about bots violating their TOS and spamming people, why are they displaying this ad on their site?
  2. If MySpace doesn’t care about bots, why don’t they?

My best guess is that they have no idea this ad is even running, and that would bring me to my third question: ummmm, why?

I really do enjoy MySpace and I wish them the best as they (hopefully) upgrade their services and their site over the next year or so, but this stuff just really amuses me. I know ads are only going for 10 cents per thousand impressions over there, but there still has to be some oversight in the sales process. Showing users ads which enable them to violate your own Terms of Service is bad business.

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51 Responses:

  1. Oh come on now Mike, you’re just anxioulsy awaiting until Kimberly turns her sights on Newsvine.

    I mean, who doesn’t want a Newsvine spam-bot? It will be another indicator of adoption into the mainstream!

  2. Tim says:

    I’m not a MySpace guy though I have visited the site. What I don’t get and I just attribute to an age/generational thing, is why anyone would spend money on a MySpace bot. How many people pay for this service?

  3. I still can’t get past the MySpace appeal. Until I figure out the appeal of such a monstrosity I can’t possibly comment on something this ridiculous. Sorry, Mike and thanks for the giggle.

  4. Chad Edge says:

    You know, I just made a post last night about being fed up with the phishing, bots, scams, spam, and bullshit that comes through MySpace. Not so much because it takes time away from my day, but because I’m tired of having to help out cousins because they can’t figure out why their inbox is now inundated with crap, or their MySpace account has been closed, or, or, or…

    So I made my little post about getting a junk Friend request. Not an hour later and I got three more. Not a minute after that, one of my friends got suckered into an auto-post javascript (very crap).

    Sigh…

  5. Tim,

    I think it’s pretty obvious why someone would pay for a MySpace bot. It’s the same reason they pay for scripts to create splogs or spammy blog comments – to make money.

    “Number two, this shatters my long-standing opinion that Swedish girls named Kimberly can’t possibly be evil.”

    LOL.

  6. It’s the unfortunate danger of ad networks. From my experience, there’s a lot of advertising re-re-re-re-re-re-(etc)-selling that goes on, to the point where you don’t actually know what ad network is putting the ad up. Once you track down the ad network, you can have those URLs blacklisted, but then the person just moves to another ad network and does the same thing.

    If they would start selling via their own ad servers, most of these problems should go away. I’ve wondered for a bit now why they haven’t streamlined their marketing dept.

    Tim: MySpace profiles for a company are a strong way to build a personal company presence. It lets people feel like they are “connected”, much socially the same way as blogs work with the older generation. Imagine a kid that put “Nintendo” on his friend list, and gets a bulliten when they changed the “Revolution” to the “Wii”. He’d feel like that (spam) personal message was meant for him.

  7. We have allready fixed this vulnerability and have reported this to the U.S. FBI and would appreciate all help you can offer us in the persecution of this criminal. Thank you.

    Harsh place that MySpace bot community.

  8. Chris says:

    Count me among those that just don’t get the MySpace phenomenon. I really don’t like that place. And these kinds of ads are a big reason I don’t like that place. A big, bungled mess of crap is what I see when I head over there.

  9. Dennis W. says:

    My commenting system on my personal site the I built in ASP keeps getting hit with spam comments, so I’m not feeling very sympathetic towards companies that provide tools to crawl people’s sites and gather info, or spam the systems.

    It’s funny though, when I read the letters from the administrator, “Kimberly”, I couldn’t help but be reminded of a letter from the Charles Dickens book Nicholas Nickleby. There were a few phrases that I thought were very similar:

    ‘SIR,

    ‘My pa requests me to write to you, the doctors considering it doubtful whether he will ever recuvver the use of his legs which prevents his holding a pen.

    ‘We are in a state of mind beyond everything, and my pa is one mask of brooses both blue and green likewise two forms are steepled in his Goar. We were kimpelled to have him carried down into the kitchen where he now lays. You will judge from this that he has been brought very low.

    ‘When your nevew that you recommended for a teacher had done this to my pa and jumped upon his body with his feet and also langwedge which I will not pollewt my pen with describing, he assaulted my ma with dreadful violence, dashed her to the earth, and drove her back comb several inches into her head. A very little more and it must have entered her skull. We have a medical certifiket that if it had, the tortershell would have affected the brain.

    ‘Me and my brother were then the victims of his feury since which we have suffered very much which leads us to the arrowing belief that we have received some injury in our insides, especially as no marks of violence are visible externally. I am screaming out loud all the time I write and so is my brother which takes off my attention rather and I hope will excuse mistakes.

    ‘The monster having sasiated his thirst for blood ran away, taking with him a boy of desperate character that he had excited to rebellyon, and a garnet ring belonging to my ma, and not having been apprehended by the constables is supposed to have been took up by some stage-coach. My pa begs that if he comes to you the ring may be returned, and that you will let the thief and assassin go, as if we prosecuted him he would only be transported, and if he is let go he is sure to be hung before long which will save us trouble and be much more satisfactory. Hoping to hear from you when convenient

    ‘I remain ‘Yours and cetrer ‘FANNY SQUEERS.

    ‘P.S. I pity his ignorance and despise him.’

    Doesn’t instill a whole lot of confidence, does it?

  10. No one except really lowly white trash swedes can possibly name their daughter “Kimberly”. Here’s a fun fact for you: in Sweden, names ending in a y strongly correlate to criminality. More strongly than any other single factor actually. Drug use, alcoholism, poverty, they all pale in comparison with names ending in y.

    Maybe you should update your prejudice-file :P

  11. What a business concept. Anyone snapped up NewsvineBot.com?

    But honestly, myspace is definitely interesting from a business / society perspective, but watching it from any other angle is like staring at a flaming car wreck – it’s ugly, often filled with mangled up people, and it should be cleared away ASAP.

  12. gb says:

    Mike… can you just roll out a nice myspace alternative already? Jeez… come on man… you’re droppin’ the ball here. ;)

    But seriously. Please. I want to punch Tom in the face.

  13. Amit says:

    I’ve never used myspace and I already hate it. The large number of myspace accounts befuddles me. It’s pure trash!

  14. Ted says:

    Aw, come on Mike. How can you like a site in which the top result for a search of Mike Davidson brings up this…

    Mother Fucking Mike. aka Fuck Tard Davidson – Profile
    MySpace Profile – Mother Fucking Mike. aka Fuck Tard Davidson, 29 years old, Male, Fishtown, Philadelphia, PENNSYLVANIA, US, stop stalking me.
    http://www.myspace.com/mikepunchgbc

    I don’t get it either. Sigh. How out of touch with reality am I that I don’t find this charming?

  15. Mike D. says:

    Anders: Good information about the Swedish Kimberlys.

    Rob: Actually yes… someone has already snapped up Newsvinebot.com.

    Ted: HA! I’m totally adding that moron to my buddy list.

  16. Marcus says:

    I just have to chime in and agree with #10. I’ve never met anyone named Kimberly. In fact, only 0.006% of women in sweden are named Kimberly. Oh, and the correlation between a name ending in ‘y’ and criminality is scary but oh so true.

  17. Mike -
    Can you preemptively shut down sites that use “Newsvine” in their URL?

  18. Chad Edge says:

    Dave > I owned killaol.com for several years, even after AOL attempted to yank the server, and then even after most (something)aol.ext were taken down, bought out, or killed.

    My point: a preemptive strike is costly. Also, I found that a lot of killaol.com traffic exited to aol.com; I guess there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

  19. Opie says:

    Well Mike… I have to say I used one of the products mentioned throughout the post with much success. Living in a medium sized community, it allowed me to build a friends list of over 1800 local people who were interested in the product. All of this in the matter of a few weeks. Other wise I would have gone blind clicking the add me button to death one by one.

    Another example is for events that we throw… MySpace does not provide any mechanism for us to send out invitations in bulk to our many friends. We must add 1 friend at a time. This is almost impossible to do by hand.

    For me it is like anything web releated – there are both positive people who use these grey market tools in a legitimate viral marketing strategy… and negative people who will use this to spread fake cialis and spyware.

  20. Ed says:

    You need to be careful about concluding that people with poor grammar and spelling live in Swedish sewers when you have “copywrighting” twice in your post. When you write, it’s “writing,” and when you write copy, it’s “copywriting.” No “gh” in there.

    Incidentally, the confusion comes from the word “copyright,” which is to protect a published work from being copied (or, more accurately, to protect the original author’s sole right to copy the work). No “w” in that one.

  21. Mike D. says:

    Ed: Two things -

    1. You can’t possibly think I actually have any idea where these people live.

    2. Yes, of course copywriting is not spelled that way. Did you not notice that I was pointing out the misspelling of “powerful” when I used that (non)-word?

    Cheers.

  22. Alexandra says:

    Love reading your posts. Haven’t commented before, but-

    Not sure if anyone else has noticed, but Facebook is now allowing people to join based on a work email address and be a part of your company’s network.

    They have a lot up already in the list of companies. I’m sure the typical email-them

    Another step towards domination, I think :) Go Facebook!

  23. Michael says:

    Mike,

    I don’t know if you ever stumbled across this, as it was on digg the other day, but this site is quite remarkable:

    http://mydeathspace.com/

    Judinging by the address, I assumed it was some kind of sick joke, but it actually turns out to be a sincere, strange offshoot of the Myspace community. Thought you and the rest of your visitors might find it interesting.

  24. Tyler Remington says:

    I like this blog.

  25. thewebguy says:

    there is one that i watch people run all day (some dudes i work near own a record label so it comes in handy for them).

    they said there is a 500 action limit, where an action is adding someone, messaging someone, commenting, maybe a few other things, so the program cuts off after 400. sometimes they have to do the CAPTCHAS, which will appear in the program with a text box, sometimes they don’t.

    i guess myspace doesn’t care if you stay under the 500 action limit.

  26. I too am one of those that just don’t get the appeal of MySpace whatsoever. I thought the Dutch CU2.nl was bad enough, but MySpace is just infinitely worse in every aspect. I can’t make out left from right on that place, it’s that dreadful to me.

    Ohwell. At least posts like these are funny. :-)

  27. jay says:

    I thought Myspace was free right? Why the hell are so many people bitching about a free service. If you don’t like how shit is running and you are not paying for it out of your pocket. Then stop using it and go somewhere else or use something else. I mean damn it’s free and people want to complain.

  28. Téa says:

    MySpace is really handy if teens and early twenties are your target demographic — ie music, movies and other entertainment. I specialise in music industry community management and see MySpace as an important part of that.

    That said, it is also a pain in the ass. Managing the MySpace for a celebrity sucks – because people truly think that they have access, which means clearing out the inane animated gifs and crap from the inbox :)

    I have also found some new indie artists through MySpace, so it has its good points and bad.

  29. Kevin says:

    Somebody got caught

  30. None says:

    Paul Walton is the owner, he’s not from Sweden, he moved the domain to a swedish registrar because the laws differ there and MySpace can’t take any legal action apparently. [So Paul Walton says..]

  31. Roane Sky says:

    The interesting thing about myspace; it’s a compressed version of the internet as a whole. What you see happening there isn’t isolated, just magnified.

  32. Tap says:

    I hate myspace…and for many reasons written and posted here. It’s a black hole that people are diving into…or better yet…it’s a train people are getting on (in other words, riding the train and being ridden by the train).

    MySpace is a good idea, but the actual product itself needs major revision.

  33. Aza says:

    I think the major issue with Myspace that everybody has failed to mention is the that they always ALWAYS have technical problems of some kind. Here’s a just a simple example to illustrate my point:

    -(At some point during last week) I tried to visit my Myspace. The page took ages to load and it gave an error message.
    -(Next day) I tried to log in. The page said that my Myspace was currently unavailable. Tried to visit my Myspace. Same message.
    -(Next day) Could log in once, then it went ”screwy” again.
    -(Next day) My site was finally working. I tried to add a song to my profile. Couldn’t.
    -(Thursday) Tried to leave my first comment. I can’t add comments.
    -(Friday) Tried to leave comments like…1000 times. It wouldn’t let me. Visited the FAQ page which took ages to load by the way.
    -”Why can’t I add a comment?” wasn’t on the list. So I hit ”Contact Myspace”. The page wouldn’t load properly (javascript error). I couldn’t send a message. But it did tell me to visit a page with a list of problems they’ve already detected.
    -The page didn’t exist. So I tried to leave Tom a comment.
    -The dumb f*** doesn’t accept comments since the 25th.
    -(Saturday) I threw my computer out the window and killed an old lady and her Yorkshire Terrier. Myspace had finally driven me insane. lol

    I’m already hating it, so if they’re advertising on their own site a company that sells tools which help users violate their own terms of use, it kinda doesn’t worry me. The truth is that I’m an addict so if anyone (Mike) has an idea of what the problem is they could enlighten me.

    I love your posts and sense of humour ^^

    PS: I checked out your Myspace, you know you look like Eddie Vedder right? :)

  34. Dave says:

    Myspace.com is 100% fueled and paid for by spaming users with ads they don’t want. It is no wonder other spamers have picked up and started using it as their own playground. Spamers breed spamers. Myspace is probably the best place to get dumb people to click on things. FriendBot has the right idea in my opinion.

  35. I agree with 28# (Téa) who uses MySpace as a promotion tool. I run this record label and think the site is very important for my business. I get contacts with other producers, singers, a&r´s, -people that have the same interest like me.

    Its only matter of time and the page will die, because the “music people” will get sick of all the spam..

    (Sorry for my bad english writing)

  36. Silent Bob says:

    With all of that said it still comes down to the core elements of life. You have stupid people, stupid programmers, stupid marketing executives, stupid users, and just a whole site full of stupid people.

    When you have that many stupid people that make up the population of a site that consist of uncountable masses of crap. (With a few exceptions as to people, there are a few cool/ smart people on there.) But when you have that many morons if there is a god, he will strike it down just like sodom and gomorrah. I wouldnt blame him either, its really not that different. Its a bunch of people running around naked having no sense of self worth and fucking whoever they can meet in that error filled jungle.

    If any body is listening I would stay as far away from the building that holds all the myspace info, god will strike it down. I dont know when, I dont know how big the arc of lighting will be, but I do know that when it happens I will be there laughing, taking pictures, and yelling obscene dick and fart jokes for eternity.

    Your Friend Silent Bob

  37. bertfw says:

    MySpace is just a site that enables subliterate retards to get in touch with one another. The only good thing about MySpace is it keeps most of these idiots in one place.

  38. @ bertfw..

    Haha, sad little man..

  39. This made me laugh. A lot. The ads are completely contradicting their so-called philosophies. I wonder what is going on with the communication lines between the marketing department and the writers that attempt to keep a straight face for Myspace. Nonetheless, its amusing. More, more, more nit-picking!

  40. Matt says:

    Im glad were out of school today cause i was getting tired of the teachers bitching at us

  41. Jez says:

    theres no ‘w’ in ‘copyrighting’

  42. Mike D. says:

    Jez: As pointed out in comment 21, I know. It was a joke.

  43. Mike says:

    Actually, Friendbot IS a very good tool for musicians. It saves soo much time when it comes to adding friends. Myspace is the best marketing tool ever to happen to the music business. Friendbot makes it that much better.

  44. Aaron says:

    They must be in cahoots with Myspace. I guess $15,000.00 for an ad space does it just fine. I own that software, or actually “Friend Adder” is the one I own. These poor developers are constantly jumping through MySpace hoops trying to stay on top. Every since MySpace went totally CAPTCHA crazy, and they changed there arguments, most of these software packages cannot get around them anymore. If this one does, then there is some fishy business going on! A little “palm greasing”, or so it seems.

    If you are aggressively using these “Bots”, Myspace shuts you down and makes you jump through hoops to sign on again. I know, they did it on one of my accounts 39 times! The only reason I get back on is the fact that I jump through their hoops, but you see deleted accounts all of the time in your network. These people never signed back on, I guess.

    MySpace is the lousiest place to market ANYTHING that has ever existed! The New York Times has not only brainwashed these people into believing that some cool dude named “Tom”, is so cool that he just lets you hang out on his cool server, they have also convinced them that everything is spam, and everyone is a perv. If you write someone who doesn’t “know” you, then be prepared for the “Who are you”, and “How did you get MY site”, etc. These morons don’t even realize that MySpace supplies tools just for that purpose. Random friend requests were how you made “Friends”. Not anymore. You are SPAM until you prove otherwise! Some great network.

    Now they have gone to the extreme and invaded peoples privacy. I am all for killing a couple of pedophiles, that is not the issue. The issue is that they are still citizens, and for a government office to hold power over a social site is just the first of many more things they will do down the line. What about drunk drivers? Maybe we should ban drunk drivers from using social websites. What about pick pockets? Maybe adulterers? They opened up a HUGE Pandora’s box that we haven;t begun to feel repercussions from yet!

    And that bologna about MySpace being some Holy Grail for musicians… Naw. You get people to listen, nobody buys anything. The name of the game is to sell music, you can’t do much over there unless MySpace Music signs you. Sure, they are in the game of letting you “sell” Mp3’s, but that is to keep tabs on you and because it is hip right now. If they decide to sign you then you have a shot. That doesn’t happen much. Otherwise, it is mostly just a hand job. I know, I am a musician.

    Oh, and copyrighting? Lost art my friends.

  45. Just A Girl says:

    Myspace has been nothing but a nightmare for me. If captcha is so useful, how could someone still change my profile and blog info. or show I was online when I set it to hide unless they work for the retards? This same “someone” has set up fake accounts in my name, has fake profiles in the 1,000’s and has made a real effort to persecute all my male friends for what reasons I don’t know. So much of it is nothing but a fake playground. I came to realize that one of their employess must be stalking me because deleting profiles and setting up new ones didn’t fix any of my problems. Having 0 friends didn’t change anything either. I finally think I know who this person is and I daresay he’s commented on this site and others I’ve found in my search for other people who myspace has messed with so hard. Myspace isn’t a joke. It seems like a place for you to give out personal info through talking to your friends and “someone” is watching constantly. However, try to contact myspace with your horrible problems will be to no avail either. They just don’t give a damn.

  46. Nick Piro says:

    Myspacebot.com/ Friendbot.com is bull!@#!. They make like it can do all these things…but in reality they just want your money. Myspace is a very strong security website and something like Friendbot can not beat it…Trust me…I paid for it.

  47. jools says:

    myspace’s power is surely waining. there are simply too many of these bot messages/comments/requests to make it enjoyable any more.

    one thing i’d say about friendbot, the people who created it must now be VERY VERY rich.

    thanks for your blog, it cheered me up!

    Jools

    PS

    Dear Silent Bob (number 36)

    your hypocritic morals typify the christian faith. your god wont save you… hell waits for you.

  48. confuzion says:

    i bought friendbot commenter about 2 years ago and have had nothing but problems with it, i think its only worked about 10 times for me. the problem is they never fix there log in script when myspace changes it. all friend bot has to do is change one friggin line of code for there program to work but they never update it, it takes 6 months for a update. i feel bad for the people who are newly buying it becuase there buying a program that wont even log in, i mean imagine paying 60$ for the full package and going to log in and it never works. once again
    DO NOT BUY FRIENDBOT PRODUCTS THEY DONT EVER WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    DO NOT BUY FRIENDBOT PRODUCTS THEY DONT EVER WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    DO NOT BUY FRIENDBOT PRODUCTS THEY DONT EVER WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    DO NOT BUY FRIENDBOT PRODUCTS THEY DONT EVER WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  49. stephen says:

    Its just away for myspace to make money on banner ads like everyone on the net out for blood money.six thousands dollars for main page banner it is too much.

  50. con says:

    thats not to much, a commercial is way more then that and that only broadcasts sometimes to local area, every single person just about has a myspace now a days

  51. confuzion says:

    i bought the 10$ program from friendbot.com a few years ago, it worked good for about a month then stopped working, they upgraded it about twice, the version 4 was a nice layout but did not work for even a day, then version 5 came out and worked for about 3 days. never had any fixes since then. the bad thing is the page still exists there selling a broke program.

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