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The Market of Social Media Bots

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Introduction

Social media bots are used to promote social media accounts and inflate statistics of social media accounts, typically in attempts to make an account look more popular than it is. There are many uses for this, such as perpetrating social media scams using followers and likes a way to gain trust to the victim, and using followers as a way to tempt actual users to follow, because many other people follow.

Instagram Automation Tools

There is a difference between botting a social media to have inflated likes, followers, etc. than using social media automation softwares. Social media automation softwares are often utilized to gain legitimate followers by having the accounts automate activities that gain legitimate followers. An example of this is 'top comment bots' that were popular for a while on the platform, where people would bot the likes of a comment on a post to make a certain comment appear in the top position when someone checks a post's comments. This attracts users to the account and overall increases the outreach of the account that was botted. A more recent version of this is a 'first-comment' bot, that checks certain pages for new post and when one happens the bot makes the given account the first to comment. This also increases outreach and increases the probability of the account being the top comment on the post. Similarly, there are liking bots that will automatically like post, in the hopes that the account owner will notice the like and follow the account back.

One of the more intricate bots are the auto-posters and automated downloader. There are bots that scrape content from Instagram, Tiktok, and YouTube to repost onto an Instagram account. These bots also sometimes automatically generate captions to post to help push the post to potential followers. The more post an account has, the more opportunity it must reach the explore page of Instagram. Account management softwares are made for Instagram such as Jarvee. These softwares can schedule posts, automatically follow users, like users post, and do activities on accounts to tend to Instagram's algorithm, which determines which users will be more likely to be pushed through features like Instagram's "explore" and "recommended accounts" buttons. Programs like Jarvee are often used in conjunction with other softwares such as post-bots, which as mentioned find content on sites like Pinterest and Tumblr which account owners can post.

Auto-Posting Software
Jarvee Software
Auto-Liker

Nearly any software for Instagram or other social media platforms automates activity on the site to popularize the page.

Other 'Self Bots'

Self bots are bots that operate on a singular account that are directly manageable by the purchaser. The most common self bot I see sold on blackhat marketplaces are Discord self bots, used to 'snipe Nitros', mass message, and more. Sniping nitros is basically monitoring for giveaways in 'Discord servers', which are groupchats. An example of this ascent.wtf, which does the aforementioned features and more. However, the problem with these bots is that Discord may detect the automated activity and restrict user's accounts on detection.

Mass DMs

One of the newer inventions of the social media marketing space is mass messaging services, commonly referred to as, "mass DMs". This is used for the spread of fraud initiatives, such as phishing domains for NFTs, and for general website/account promotion on social media platforms. Mass DM services can reach up to millions of people and are present on nearly every platform, ranging from Instagram, Twitter, all the way to Discord. The main weakness with mass DM service messaging is that many times the platforms manage to detect and filter out the spam. For instance, many mass DMs are sent to the "Requests" folder on Instagram, which users rarely think to check relative to their normal messages. The rate per 1,000 messages for Instagram is typically around $2 and orders can be in the millions of messages. There are many mass DM sites, an example site I foundGoToTop.io was popular from what I saw during my research.

Mass DMs can be used for many different purposes. People plan out mass DMs to phish assets and logins, additionally it increases the number of visitors to things like profiles, websites, etc. Mass DMs are a powerful tool for more 'legitimate' accounts and sites, alongside being a powerful tool for fraudsters.

Mass Followers, Mass Likes, etc. (SMM Panels)

Social media marketing sites are sites designed to 'bot' followers, likes, and other account related statistics. To chomprehend this definition, it is important to understand what 'botting' is. Botting is the act of automated software scripts using compromised accounts/computer generated accounts to inflate statistics, Botting these statistics make an account look more popular than it is, attracting more users to trust the account or interact with it. These media panels run far and wide, providing botting services for nearly any social media platform online at cheap rates. There are thousands of these panels on the market, mostly with similar prices. Most of these SMM panels are resale services that are selling services that they will proceed to order from another, cheaper, panel. Orders for SMM panels are normally processed within a few hours, making them convenient for the buyer.

Some of the prominent SMM panels are AnotherSocialPanel.com and RealPanel.me, but there are hundreds of popular services with active users. Sites like these require low up-front cost, most cost being attributed to advertising the services. Maintaining the service for most services is simple due to how often these sites are just 'reseller' sites for bigger sellers. There is no shortage of SMM Panel sites on BlackHatWorld's Social Media Services forum marketplace section. Rates for the sites tend to be similar.

Example prices from SMM.rip

'Comment Bots'

One of the 'self-bot' features is noteworthy of its own section due to how popular it has become. This is the 'top comment bots', which serve the purpose of boosting a commentor on a platform to be the top comment. The advantage of having the top comment on a given platform is that when users look at the comments, the account of the top comment will be on the top thereby will have greater exposure. This commenting mechanism became very popular from 2020-2021 and was used not only for account promotion but promoting various phishing schemes and cryptocurrencies.

The process of this is exactly what you would expect, similar to what SMM panels do, comment bots use accounts to like a given comment on a given post. These accounts can be cracked, phished, or generated.

The Value of Botted Accounts

Botted accounts can be used to promote sites and social media accounts, which can add value to blackhat operations or legitimate brands, but on top of this the market for botted accounts also plays a role in the market of social media accounts. Websites such as FameSwap facilitate sales of high-follower accounts, which sometimes have their statistics inflated by following. This is an instance of fraudsters scamming other fraudsters, promoting an account as legitimately popular, meanwhile a significant portion of the followers are illegitimate, obtained via botting typically. The market for 'popular accounts' is typically called 'stat' accounts, accounts that have high statistics. The metric that makes a 'stat' account valuable are the followers, ratio of comments/likes to followers, and other various engagement metrics that show if an account has legitimate followers.

These accounts are worth thousands of dollars and are sold for any social media platform imaginable, such as Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Snapchat. Additionally, stat account owners are able to sell 'shoutouts' to other accounts, to promote an account and hopefully have it gain followers. Some account owners grow new accounts with their stat accounts to create a 'network', promoting each account they own with other owned accounts. Shoutouts are typically sold or done in return for another shoutout from another popular account.

FameSwap Sales for Various Accounts
OGU Sales for Instagram Accounts

Conclusion

There are many means to 'bot' accounts. Users use 'self bots' to promote their accounts via liking and following other users, along with publishing content on a regular, formal schedule. Additionally, mass DMs are used as a mean to promote accounts, where a user sends messages to a big, scraped list of users, and some users will see and follow the message's instructions. Then there is botting websites/services which provide services for nearly any thinkable social media service.