Tuesday, August 01, 2006

eBay, scammers, and self-governance

A couple interesting articles on eBay this morning.

The first is from Mike at TechDirt who talks about scammers using web robots to cheaply build a high reputation at eBay:
They use bots to scan eBay and buy $0.01 "buy it now" items ... Any new scamming user can build up a nice looking feedback page with tons of successful deals -- all at just a penny a shot.

The bots can create tons of new users as well, all of which are quickly building up good eBay reputations.

Then, they can waltz in with the real scam and drop the account, and move right on to the next "primed" account their bot has set up for them.
The second is from Nick Carr who quotes from a new book called "Who Controls the Internet?":
When Goldsmith and Wu look beneath eBay's "self-governing facade," they find "a far different story -- a story of heavy reliance on the iron fist of coercive governmental power."

eBay maintains a large and aggressive internal security force -- numbering almost a thousand -- and this force works in close harmony with national law-enforcement agencies to police the eBay community.

"Perpetually threatened by cheaters and fraudsters, eBay established an elaborate hand-in-glove relationship with the police and other governmental officials who can arrest, prosecute, incapacitate, and effectively deter these threats to its business model ... Without this powerful hidden-hand help of governments in the places where it does business, eBay's thriving 'self-governing' community could not survive."

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