There are all sorts of web sites dedicated to wiping out spam online. Web Spam has become a huge problem, no one likes it, no one likes being duped. In fact Google makes a big thing about Web Spam.So big it even has a whole team dedicated to the removal of it, headed up by Matt Cutts. Of course Google walks a little bit of a tightrope, on the one hand they want to produce the very highest quality of search results, but they also need to make money through advertising. Some might even say that ‘spam’ is what feeds them.

Here is a fine example. My wife asked me to reload her computer to factory settings. I won’t talk about how much grief this is, what should be a 20 minute adventure becomes a 6 hour marathon of playing Whack-A-Mole with idiot (not so free) add ons like Norton, and endless restarts and updates from Microsoft.

I declared the computer healed and handed the keys to the city back to my wife. She, like most people do not like Internet Explorer, but she is a grown up, and installing Firefox does not require a PhD in Astrophysics so I assumed that this would be a task that would be easy.

“Go to Google and type in Firefox” was my advice. A couple of minutes later she asked me if she should let Firefox set her default search engine to Babylon.com? I have battled the Babylon malware issue before. So in my best FBI voice I told her to “step Away from the computer, and keep her hands where I can see them”. Babylon was dispatched back to the loins of Satan. But how did it happen?

This screen shot tells the story:

firefox.jpg
Sure, Google will point out that the first item on the list is marked as a paid for inclusion ad. But they hardly make a point of ‘advertising’ the fact. There are many people that want Firefox, but I doubt that those people are really want to have all of their browsers hijacked by Babylon.

If Google wants to fix Web Spam, maybe it should start the cleaning process with paid ads on its own pages.

The spam ad (number one in the list) points to a reasonable sounding web site (I will not publish it), the real site is Mozilla.com.

The fake site does look like it has legitimacy, but a little poking around (don’t click Install) does offer some legal get outs.

In addition, if a sponsored software offer, like for example a toolbar, will be offered, it shall change the User’s home page, default search settings and 404-error traffic, in the event the User selects such options. The ToDownload Manager launches the installation of the downloaded software products.

Take care people, if you thought Internet Explorer was a crappy product, this bunch of idiots will make IE shine!

Simon Barrett

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