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Adult Affiliate Marketing: Why You’re Seeing So Many Porn Bots on Instagram

By May 2, 2019 No Comments

Did you know that Instagram has a porn bot infestation?

Us neither. That is, until we realized that @JoannaShon13, who just direct messaged us on Instagram at 3:46am, is exactly that: a porn bot.

Joanna’s account is private, has two rather explicit profile pictures of suspiciously different looking girls, five followers, two posts, and a load of information about her past that often seems to be contradicting of itself. (Joanna is 18 years old, but she supposedly graduated from college three years ago?)

The fact of the matter is that, regardless of the number of people who follow you on your Instagram account, a number of them are bound to be just like JoannaShon13.

These porn bots generally possess a “name-name-number” handle and send you obscure direct messages, most commonly heart or flame or peach emojis with a link, at random hours of the day.

So, what’s the deal with these porn bots? What exactly is their purpose on Instagram, and who’s behind all of them?

Let’s take a look at the facts.

Lover And Fighter Crew

Why Are Porn Bots’ On Instagram?

Like just about everything these days, the answer comes down to following the money.

If you follow the porn bot trail and click on a porn bot’s profile or a link they’ve direct messaged you, you’ll most likely end up on what is known as an affiliate marketing website. Affiliate marketing is a frequently used business model that rewards people for bringing customers to a company or visitors to a website.

The business model works similarly to the one that Instagram influencers use. For example, an Instagram sports influencer will post a pic wearing trendy, Nike sportswear. In their caption, they’ll provide what are known as “affiliate links” to each item of clothing they are wearing. Every time someone clicks on one of those links, whether or not that person spends any money to purchase an article of clothing from the picture, the influencer will earn money from Nike (or whatever business’ website they are sharing affiliate links to).

Porn bots are similar in that they serve to lure people to affiliate websites—generally porn-related ones. The businesses of the affiliate websites then pay the controller of the porn bot for generating traffic to their website.

The reason affiliate marketing is a prominent online business model is because the money isn’t half bad.

Take it from clothing Instagram influencer Sophie Rathmanner: “I can make a couple hundred dollars a week with a few thousand followers, and that money is on top of what I also make with my day job!”

It’s clear who makes the money when we’re talking about an Instagram influencer because they’re literally in the pictures with the stuff they’re selling, like Sophie with her clothes, or they provide verifiable information about themselves on the account. But that’s not the case with porn bots—they’re fake profiles with fake usernames, pictures, and information.

So, the question remains: who is operating these accounts and making money off of porn bots?

Who’s Running The Porn Bot Army On Instagram?

The word “bot” in “porn bot” kind of makes it sound like porn bots are operated by a computer program or even artificial intelligence; like a porn business has set up a bot army and commanded it to “seize Instagram,” so the business can make a quick buck.

But that’s not really what’s happening. In fact, porn bots are just poorly created Instagram user accounts that are run by average men and women looking to make some quick cash.

According to Steve Smith, a blogger for adult affiliate marketers (those who pose as porn bots), “There is an unlimited supply of [people who look at porn], and you can get a pretty nice conversion rate if you know how to [get] them to click your link.”

Put another way, Smith’s saying that, because of the enormous quantity of people who look at porn, it’s easy for anyone to pose as a porn bot, chat with an Instagram user, and get that user to click on a link to an affiliate porn website. Smith even says that he has encountered people who don’t only pose as women on Instagram, but Twitter, Snapchat, and even Quora too!

In some cases, the Instagram user who clicks on the link may even purchase a subscription (PPS – pay per sign-up, or pay per sale) to the affiliate porn website, in which case the adult affiliate marketer could also earn a commission on top of whatever they earn from the initial link click. This could net the affiliate marketer up to $5. However, as Smith points out, getting an Instagram user to purchase a porn subscription is much more difficult, “but not impossible.”

People Are Not Products - Black

Why This Matters

Satnam Narang, a senior research engineer at cybersecurity company Tenable, says that Instagram uses automated systems to detect and remove millions of spam accounts every day, but porn bot affiliates “aren’t deterred… as they look for new ways to get around some of the automated detections.”

So the next time you get a random message from “Joanna” or her friends, watch out and report the account.

Equally important to being careful while using social media, however, is being aware of why porn bots exist in the first place: it’s because people watch porn.

To some, watching porn isn’t a big deal, but research is showing how it can have real negative impacts on consumers, relationships, and our world. Every person has a right to make an informed decision about porn for them self, and understand that it has been shown to fuel sex trafficking, affect the brain like a drug, and harm relationships both romantic and platonic, among its numerous other harmful effects.

Every click fuels the exploitative “adult” industry—even if it’s on an affiliate link from a porn bot on Instagram. So, now more than ever, we invite you to choose to refuse to click porn.

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