It involves scraper bots and the ways in which retailers use them against rivals.

For retailers, scraping can be a two-way street, and that’s where things get interesting. Retailers want to see what their rivals are doing, but they want to prevent rivals from snooping on them; retailers also want to protect intellectual property like product photos and descriptions, which can be scraped and reused without permission by others. So many deploy defenses to subvert scraping. One technique: showing different prices to real people than to bots. A site may show the price as astronomically high or zero to throw off bots collecting data.

Machines making machines and fighting other machines. How perverse.

Check It Out: There’s a Secret Internet Arms Race

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