One of the most frustrating things about trying to grab yourself a PlayStation 5 can be the fact that they all get snatched up before you can even load the page. The reason behind that is because of the computer programs that people use to perform online tasks for them. These bots can purchase online stock much faster than any human, and it’s the number one way scalpers are getting all of these consoles.
Between the pandemic and the shortage in PlayStation 5 stock, it’s created the perfect environment for any bot user to thrive in. However, it has also caused a lot of hardships for shoppers. Both Walmart and Target have done their best to combat these bot sales, but some still slip through the cracks.
On Black Friday, Walmart.com claimed to have blocked more than 20 million orders that were placed by bots. Other retailers are still battling these sales, too. Walmart recently released a statement explaining how they go about combating these bots.
Unfortunately, using bots for online shopping is 100% legal in the United States. Without any repercussions to that, anyone tech savvy enough to work those bots can do it. Some are using them to resell the PlayStation 5 consoles, but others are just trying to find a way to beat the bots that are already being used out there.
Shopping bots have been around for a while now, and have only gotten more popular with time. They are primarily used to purchase things from online shops, but some are used to simply inform the user of items being restocked (the PlayStation 5 in this case). These bots can also help in cases like this, but would certainly not be as fast as the ones that buy the product automatically.
Given that there are many different types of bots, it can be difficult to stop them. Retailers have been doing their best to snuff out any purchases made by bots.
Some websites use Captchas to find and prevent bot activity. Captcha stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. These are those tests you see that have you select photos of certain items. However, even these tests can be fooled by some bots.
Jerry Giesler, Walmart chief information security officer, talked about this in Walmart’s statement I mentioned above. “Bot scripts are constantly evolving and being re-written, so we’ve built, deployed and are continuously updating our own bot detection tools allowing us to successfully block the vast majority of bots we see.”
Even still, some do still get through. Technology is always evolving which makes it very difficult to combat or predict, especially if some of these bots are handcrafted by individuals. Either way though, Walmart claims that most demand is still coming from real people, not bots.
Hopefully, retailers can keep finding more ways to stop these bots so that real customers can get through and purchase what they are after. The PlayStation 5 release, along with the other next gen consoles have been plagued with bot activity, so it would be nice to see that fixed.
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