In addition to being a place for friends, MySpace has also become a marketing and publicity tool. People and businesses use the site to promote their goods and services, and as MySpace continues to grow and build members, more people are making money (and even careers) out of MySpace promotion.
Automatic tools called "bots" are a big help for MySpace promoters (and often a big nuisance to everyone else) who want to target more users and extend their MySpace reach. A bot is a piece of software that interacts with Web pageskind of like a person might, but it does it automatically. There are even companies that will mass-target MySpace users with friend requests, invitations, and more.
Bots are also used by some MySpace users to quickly build their friend base. Popular and cheap (even free) downloads for friend-generating bots are becoming more and more common. Nicknamed "Whore Trains" (ouch) or "Friend Trains," these tools help users send out massive friend requests with minimal effort (Figure 7.12).
Figure 7.12. A Web promotion for one of the many "bots" that can automate friend requests, etc.
Why would MySpace users want to spam a bunch of users with friend requests in hopes of adding more "friends" to their profile? Status. Publicity. Celebrity. And all those other things we talked about in Chapter 2. The My Friends space is in many ways a popularity contest, andfor some teensthe more "friends" they have, the "cooler" they are. Plus, users who've managed to build thousands of "friends" have a built-in network to advertise and promote whatever they might have going on in their lives, like music, writing, a small business, or events. MySpace is cheap advertising and an easy platform for up-and-coming somebodies from all walks of life to self promote.