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Taylor Swift vows to foil ticket-buying bots ahead of tour

Taylor Swift is signaling at least one clearly defined enemy in her new tour announcement: the hordes of bots and scalpers who snap up tickets before average consumers can buy them. 

In announcing her tour, Swift's website noted that the singer "is committed to getting tickets into the hands of fans ... NOT scalpers or bots." The singer said she worked with Ticketmaster to create a program that will help regular people get tickets. 

While that sounds like a great idea, the approach is ruffling feathers with some fans. That's because instead of using a program or AI to weed out bots, the system relies on asking fans to revisit her site and engage in activities such as watching videos or buying merchandise. Some fans applauded the idea, but others fumed at the approach. 

"It's like 'Do more for Taylor = better chance at tickets'," one fan wrote on Twitter. 

Other musicians have also tried to foil bots and scalpers with verification systems, but asking fans to buy merchandise to improve their chances at tickets appears to be fairly unusual. 

To be sure, Swift's approach looks one step removed from the old-fashioned fan club method, where consumers sign up for an artist's membership group to get access to early tickets or other bonuses. 

Bots and scalpers have sparked plenty of headaches for consumers. Ticket bots--software programs that can act faster than humans--are illegal in many states because they can scoop up hundreds of tickets at once. Bots are the preferred tools of scalpers who then resell those tickets at higher prices to concert- or show-goers. One famous example of a show that's battled bots is "Hamilton," the hit musical whose creator Lin-Manuel Miranda pleaded in The New York Times, "Stop the bots from killing Broadway."

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"Hamilton" earlier this month started working with Ticketmaster's Verified Fan technology to bypass bots. In the show's case, the technology requires consumers to pre-register and limits them to no more than eight tickets. 

Ticketmaster said it developed a "unique approach" to its Verified Fan program to block bots from buying tickets for Swift's tour. 

"By removing bots and scalpers from the equation, and adding a series of fun activities to help registrants boost their spot in line through our official Verified Fan Activity Meter, we're able to ensure that tickets make it into the hands of Taylor's most avid fans, at fan-friendly prices," David Marcus, executive vice president and head of music for Ticketmaster North America, said in an emailed statement. 

Nevertheless, getting Swift's fans to agree the activities are fun (and not balk at spending more money) may be the next hurdle for her tour. 

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