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Using automated programs or services to create links to your site is against most of the search engines’ guidelines, and is a negative factor that can trigger a penalty as well.
Just like automating content creation with software is outside Google’s Guidelines, creating links at scale using software is also against their guidelines. As a matter of fact, this tactic is considered a link scheme and will trigger a penalty, if discovered.
“The following are examples of link schemes which can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results: […] Using automated programs or services to create links to your site” source
On the other hand, John Mueller’s suggests that using software to launch a negative SEO doesn’t have an effect on the targeted site:
I think you’re kinda asking if automated link-dropping has any effect, right? Those scripts are pretty old-school; if you can automate a link-drop somewhere, chances are we’ve seen that a lot of times there already.
— ? John ? (@JohnMu) December 18, 2018
Google refers to automation as “software” or “services”. It’s relatively easy for them to identify services that offer link building automation (i.e. PBNs or guest posting platforms), it would be interesting to know how Google would identify if someone is using desktop software to create backlinks.