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.
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:
- If MySpace cares about bots violating their TOS and spamming people, why are they displaying this ad on their site?
- 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.