Bits from Bill: Facebook May Not Be For Everyone

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By Bill Pytlovany

A few years ago I joined Facebook to write about privacy issues with their Beacon advertising system. I was quickly sucked in by the fun, convenience and easy ability to keep in touch with family and friends. I really enjoy the ability to share photos and even love to see vacation photos and cute babies from people I don’t really know in real life. While I am continuing to use Facebook, it may not be for everyone.

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Google and the Price of Oil

We spend a lot of money on advertising and a lot of money in search. Just got off the line with our advertising guru, and in rough numbers, we burn over 6 times as much money with Google than we burn with Microsoft and Yahoo COMBINED. That’s an astronomical difference between Google and the rest. Furthermore, we have tried to spend more money with both Yahoo and Microsoft, and neither has enough relevant search results to allow us to increase our spend.

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What is spyware?

Over the past few years, a new class of software has emerged that’s up to no good. It goes by many names: spyware, adware, foistware, malware, eulaware, or even crapware. For simplicity we’ll just call them all spyware. Here are some of the “features” you get from spyware. Some spyware may only use one or two of these tactics, while others do quite a bit more.

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Open Letter to Thomas Cook and Oyster Partners

Today I read that Thomas Cook has begun an online ad campaign that includes advertising on Claria’s GAIN ad network. I wanted to make Oyster Partners and Thomas Cook aware that there may be negative aspects to associating their brands with Claria and its GAIN network. Although Claria claims that its users have opted into the GAIN network, our own research shows that most users do not even know the software is installed on their system. A survey of users commissioned by StaySafeOnline showed similar negative feelings about products such as Claria’s. Other researchers have found that Claria/GAIN uses
misleading installation and disclosure practices.

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Yahoo and Claria

When Yahoo acquired Overture in September 2003, it may have bought itself a load of trouble.

Prior to the Yahoo acquisition, Overture had cut a deal with Gator (which has since changed its name to Claria Corporation) to display Overture pay-per-click advertising to users of the Gator Advertising Information Network (GAIN). As we’ve noted in earlier investigations, this deal took many Overture customers by surprise. When we contacted some Overture advertisers in September 2003, several were unaware that their ads were now being shown to Gator users and one indicated to us that they had discontinued their Overture advertising as a result.

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Overture and Gator

Several companies that have contacted PC Pitstop are puzzled how they could be associated with Gator when they honestly don’t believe their company does business with Gator Corporation. Our first thought was that there was simply someone else in the organization responsible for advertising through the Gator Advertising Information Network (GAIN), or perhaps that a third-party ad agency they hired was responsible for placing Gator advertising. (For example, adware has caused concern for companies such as Toyota.) However, we have found another way that many companies may unwittingly be advertising on Gator through its partnership with Overture and the Search Scout feature.

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