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Is Yahoo Actively Supporting Adware? 176

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the things-we-hate dept.
conq writes "According to BusinessWeek, a report said Yahoo was actively supporting the companies that spawn pop-up ads. In early September, Yahoo engineer Jeremy D. Zawodny sounded off on his blog: "Do I like those [software installation] practices? Hell no. It's insulting and disrespectful."" update the story submission takes Jeremy out of context which he blogs about and says mean things about us.
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Is Yahoo Actively Supporting Adware?

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  • by It doesn't come easy (695416) * on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @09:08AM (#13603153) Journal
    Yahoo has been doing something like this for quite some time. Many years ago, Yahoo was the place to go to find the best price on products you could purchase over the net. However, they evolved into a search that only showed the prices from businesses that had a relationship with Yahoo. Mind you, they still claimed to find the best price on the web but in truth they only included companies with an arrangement with Yahoo (and those companies rarely had the lowest price) It may be business, but it's not trustworthy. So for me Yahoo lost my trust years ago. Now they are just one source for information and no more trustworthy than the next source.
    • More evil? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BoldAC (735721) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @09:13AM (#13603200)
      Yahoo in the past has bundled their toolbar with flash [slashdot.org] and other products. They charge to get inclusion into their infamous directory. Now, they are becoming more linked with spyware?

      Yahoo is doing other evil stuff as well: [com.com]


      By accepting Yahoo's "typical" installation of YIM with Voice, it will also download Yahoo's Search Toolbar with anti-spyware and anti-pop-up software, desktop and system tray shortcuts, as well as Yahoo Extras, which will insert Yahoo links into the Internet Explorer browser. The IM client also contains "live words," which will automatically show an icon when the user highlights words online and then hyperlink to Yahoo search results, definitions or translation tools. Finally, the installation will alter the users' home page and auto-search functions to point to Yahoo by default.

      To avoid these changes, users must actively choose the "custom" installation and uncheck five boxes.


      Evil is yahoo becoming?
      • Re:More evil? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Prophet of Nixon (842081) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @09:43AM (#13603468)
        Er, this is new? I've found Yahoo to be blatantly evil since the late 90s, and I go out of my way to never visit their site. They've done nothing but hemorrhage ads, spam, and crap over the net since they began (and they've spewed plenty of ads into other media as well). I've never understood how a company that does nothing but promote misery stays afloat, much less profits.
        • Re:More evil? (Score:3, Interesting)

          Yup. And this is what Excite did just before nose-diving into the ground.
        • I've never understood how a company that does nothing but promote misery stays afloat, much less profits.

          Neither have I, but somehow those companies spreading misery keep putting the likes of Yahoo Serious, Pauli Shore, Paris Hilton, and the entire cast of the WWE in front of the cameras. It only makes sense if you assume great masochism on the part of the public at large which is not too hard given how many people still use Lynx and Vi right here in geekdom.
      • Yahoo Toolbar (Score:3, Informative)

        by Colol (35104)
        Speaking of Yahoo Toolbar, I specifically deselected it the last time I installed Yahoo Instant Messenger.

        Imagine my surprise the next time I popped into Internet Explorer to check something and a pop-up window didn't fire. Yahoo Toolbar had in fact been installed without my permission, and better yet didn't default to being one of the visible IE toolbars. Had I been, say, my parents, I would never figured out why the hell the Interwebs wasn't working.

        An invisible toolbar I specifically requested not be ins
    • Let's not forget that when geocities was bought by Yahoo!, it became a corporate monster with zero tech support (in a maze of help files where you couldn't find an e-mail or phone number), with ads popping up in your webpage almost anywhere. Geocities filters for the Proxomitron (remember the little triangle buddy that served as an ad filter?) were very popular, and the freaking geocities pages weren't valid html because of their "anti-hack" hacks.

      So, is it a mystery that Yahoo fell again in the "annoying u
    • Now they are using a new trick, or rather an old spammer's trick. They are allowing Fortune magazine to 'top post'. Usenet spammers have long spoofed their time stamp. Now Fortune does it, so that their 'news stories', which are little more than teasers, are always on top of their investment news feed. All it will take is a few more once legit sources to use this trick, and the feed will be worthless. Yes, I have complained, but neither Yahoo or Fortune are listening.
    • I quit using Yahoo search when they started charging to be included in it. I want to search all available websites, not just those run by companies who can pay multi-hundred-dollar fees.
  • by ellem (147712) *
    They have nothing to tangible sell. The only way for them to make money is to sell data they've garnered and they users who they garnered it from.

    Note CISCO not adding spyware to their PIXs.

    *or are they*
    • by Anonymous Coward

      They have nothing to tangible sell. The only way for them to make money is to sell data they've garnered and they users who they garnered it from.

      Just to point out, you're treading on very thin ice there lad. There is a very popular search engine company who sell some search appliances but whose major revenue stream comes from the sale of targeted advertisements. Targeted? How?

      Every time you visit one of this company's pages, you'll get a unique cookie (if you haven't already got one), that won't expi

    • Its very integrated as well. Contests sites like Fuse immediately take you to Yahoo, so they can track you with the full demographic information *(name, phone number, age, sex, address..etc). I've seen a few others that install their cookies as well, and several that try to do it with mini-flash icons.

      Have to remember to change the settings in flash if you want privacy. Eventually, even with flash disable, you'll have to click on one to navigate it...

  • by mrkitty (584915) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @09:10AM (#13603173) Homepage
    Google's fired people for comments about the company, will yahoo?
    • Now that it's hit slashdot, almost certainly.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      What I don't understand is why everybody seems to blame Google for firing this guy.

      It is now a regulatory violation for public companies to release financial information early or via unapproved channels - all investors are required to have the same fair first shot at any such info. And what did this guy who got fired do? He blogged financial information early. It didn't leave Google with much choice BUT to fire him. Not very smart.
  • I've used Yahoo since 1996 and every time I do a search there, I've always got at least a dozen popups from the top results.
    • I've used Yahoo since 1996 and every time I do a search there, I've always got at least a dozen popups from the top results.

      Then stop using it.

    • I've used Yahoo since 1996 and every time I do a search there, I've always got at least a dozen popups from the top results.
      Have you ever considered switching? I hear there is this new search engine groggle or something like that, anyways if you've bee unsatisfied with yahoo for nine years it might be time to consider changing.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      For the pleasure of slashdots readers and in the case someone over at zawodny.com would pull the plug, we give you - THE FULL BLOG TEXT!

      In CNet's article Yahoo IM users get more than they bargained for:

      If you're one of the tens of millions of Yahoo users asked to upgrade your instant-messaging software this week, be on your toes: The update can open the door to unwanted PC houseguests--and setting changes--by default.

      By accepting Yahoo's "typical" installation of YIM with Vo
      • Why do companies do this? Money. And when your competitor does it and you don't, you're letting them take advantage of an "opportunity" that you are not.

        The real problem is even if the Yahoo execs aren't "evil", they have no good way out. If publicly-held company A is making money by taking over users' computers, company B's shareholders will want to know why company B isn't doing the same thing. And if company B's execs say they don't want to do it on something as flimsy as moral grounds, then company B's
  • What popups (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    What popups?

    I use Mozilla and selected privacy options.
  • It's True! (Score:4, Funny)

    by tgbrittai (599035) * on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @09:14AM (#13603209) Homepage
    Yeah, I installed the Yahoo! Toolbar the other day and ended up with the Adobe Reader on my computer.

    What the?!?!?
    • Re:It's True! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by xmuskrat (613243)
      I really don't like those toolbars. It's like giving up screen real estate for things I'm not using. Might as well be a advertisement in that spot. If I want to use yahoo, I'll go to yahoo.
    • And if you install Adobe Reader you end up with the Yahoo! Toolbar getting installed unless you click in the right place.
    • Conversely, I installed Adobe Reader the other day and ended up with a Yahoo! Like! Toolbar! In! Adobe! Reader!
  • by cswiii (11061) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @09:15AM (#13603219)
    ...I load up Slashdot, see this story briefly, only to have the Network Solutions banner at the top expand into an ad that takes up about 1/4 of the browser window on mouseover, thus covering it up.

    • 1) install firefox
      2) install adblock
      3) block ad
      4) ???
      5% profit!!!
      • by eggz128 (447435)
        Only 5% profit? Not worth it :)
      • On my box at home, that's what I do. Unfortunately it's not an option here. ...and that's beside the point anyway. I wasn't talking about being annoyed by pop-ups, I was talking about an article questioning Yahoo!'s pop-up practices, noting that the vehicle for this article also happened to use them.
    • ...I load up Slashdot, see this story briefly, only to have the Network Solutions banner at the top expand into an ad that takes up about 1/4 of the browser window on mouseover, thus covering it up.

      Ther [mozilla.org]e are ads on sla [mozdev.org]shdot?

  • by Teresh (911815)
    What's next -- Google viruses? Oh, wait...
  • Lets face it. Yahoo is a huge company, so is Google. These companies are not here to be our friends. It just seems they are our friends, but in fact, their main goal is to make money (duh). So what is so suprising here? If pop ups increase revenue, they are good for the company. Why get attached personally to this? By that I mean, yahoo is for pop ups. Oh no! Who cares? Use Google. Google is bad too? Use Msn Search. If there is enough people who despise the current multi billion search engines, maybe that
    • Employees indulging in spontaneous honesty is never good for business. They should fire him and have a court slap an injunction on him that forbids him from talking about the injunction.

      Just look what happened when it was pointed out that the Emperor had no clothes. It destroyed an entire textile industry, embarrassed the nation, and undermined confidence in hucksters *ahem* businessmen with innovative revenue models. We can't undermine the economy in these fragile times! WHY DO YOU HATE AMERICA????
    • Just because Google is another search engine and huge corporation doesn't make them evil. For that matter, I wouldn't even call Yahoo! evil, they're just more interested in the bottom line.

      In Google's defense I can say that I've never experienced a pop-up from any of their sites. I've never had to actively work to not install their software. Their software has never done anything more than what I've asked it to do on my machines. With that said, I don't use their desktop search because it requires me to b

    • On the other hand, abusing your customers is rarely good for business, at least not for very long...
  • Trust Yahoo? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @09:20AM (#13603266) Journal
    "Yahoo Chief Operating Officer Daniel L. Rosensweig insists the company has the highest standards. "Users can put their trust in us because that is what we're built on," he says."

    What Rosenzweig fails to mention is that Yahoo, like most companies, will take advantage of that trust to the furthest extent they can get away with.

    Trust us because we say our foundation is trust? I don't think so.

    How about "Trust us because we take steps to prevent adware, not support it."

    Or, "Trust us because we will never piggyback software and settings changes onto downloads from us that you choose to install."

    Or, "Trust us because it's not in our financial interest to do bad things to you."

    Unfortunately, none of these three possibilities are true... and until they are, I will not trust Yahoo farther than I can throw them.
    • by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:00AM (#13603613)
      Trust us because we say our foundation is trust? I don't think so.

      "Don't be evil" ring a bell? Everyone pretty much "believed" the head honcos at google when they declared that was the company's motto.

      Dow's motto is "We Bring Good Things to Life", except they purchased Union Carbide after Union Carbide killed tens of thousands of Indian people when a chemical plant in Bhopal released methyl isocyanate. [google.com]

      Last time I mentioned Bhopal [wikipedia.org] and Dow, someone said "hey, that was Union Carbide, not Dow! Dow just bought them!" Well- Dow management and shareholders didn't seem to have much trouble sleeping at night after buying Union Carbide for a song (Union Carbide after the disaster became next to worthless as a brand.) Dow pretty much turned into a industrial-disaster profiteer.

      • Dow's motto is "We Bring Good Things to Life"

        Actually, that's GE's old motto, not Dow.

        except they purchased Union Carbide after Union Carbide killed tens of thousands of Indian people when a chemical plant in Bhopal released methyl isocyanate

        What would you have prefered to happen? Somebody has to end up owning that mess. Or are you suggesting that Union Carbide be left to rot until the value was zero as punishment? Either way, this is an amazing red herring.
        • [Dow purchased Union Carbide after Union Carbide killed tens of thousands of Indian people when a chemical plant in Bhopal released methyl isocyanate]

          ivan256 asks: What would you have prefered to happen? Somebody has to end up owning that mess.

          Red herring or not, it's not the case that someone "owns that mess." Thanks to the excellent corporate atmosphere in the US, Dow only has the assets, not the liability. There are various [bhopal.org] websites [bhopal.net] up in arms about it. Also a parody site http://www.dowethics.com [dowethics.com]

      • "'Don't be evil' ring a bell? Everyone pretty much "believed" the head honcos at google when they declared that was the company's motto. "

        Speak for yourself -- anyone that truly believed that chose to put the blindfold on themselves. However, it is possible to have a corporate philosophy that encompasses "do no evil." It may even be possible to be profitable, too. The question is, how well is that philosophy applied?

        "Dow's motto is 'We Bring Good Things to Life'""

        That's GE, Dow's slogan is "living
      • Well- Dow management and shareholders didn't seem to have much trouble sleeping at night after buying Union Carbide for a song

        Why should they? Perhaps they bought Union Carbide with the specific intention of FIXING the company... Making it safer, cleaner, etc. I don't know if that is the case, but that senario happens all the time.

        When you buy a piece of land in the USA, do you have much trouble sleeping at night, knowing you got that land through the mass murder of millions upon millions of Native Ameri


  • In other news, Yahoo! will be changing its name to "Realhoo!"
    • In response to: In other news, Yahoo! will be changing its name to "Realhoo!" That's exactly where my thoughts went too; I was always annoyed by the way RealPlayer puts up a dozen check boxes (some of which you need to scroll down to find) and forces you to opt-out of every single one -- which I always have, in those rare instances when I needed to install RealPlayer. Ironically, within the past couple of years I've kept my computer relatively Real-free, because the vast majority of sites which offer Real
  • I work for a company that produces an Anti-Spyware product that got bitch-slapped in court some time back by Gator for calling Gator Spyware. Now...WE all know what Spyware is. They know what Spyware is, but (and please, correct me if I'm wrong, because I might be) until a court of law legally defines Spyware, it seems to me that YAHOO and everyone else can load your machine up without an ounce of legal liability.
    • by HermanAB (661181) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @09:39AM (#13603435)
      Well, that should have been a lesson. It is not "Spyware", it is "Fucking Goddamn Crapware". You got to be accurate when you talk about these things...
    • I'm sure this is explained elsewhere nicely, but IMHO what sets spyware apart from other crapware is the lack of user knowledge and approval.

      A common scenario would be a user clicking 'Ok' on an EULA which somewhere, buried in a heap of legal speak, mentions "includes <insert favorite crapware here> from <insert favorite crapware company here>". Whatever happens next, that user did agree to installation of this crapware, and could have know about it before installing (if he/she would bother to

    • Anything that grows in your garden, but that you did not plant is a weed. Anything on your computer that you did not install by an informed, deliberate action is illegally-installed software.

      However, just because it's illegal, doesn't stop people doing it. Lots of people transport beneficial plant products across imaginary lines; this is against the law in many countries, but enough of them are getting away with it for it to be worthwhile.

      Windows fanboys bitch about it being "complicated" or "awkward"
  • A big company is going the cheap and dirty way to make some cash, and I'm not surprised. If there isn't a culture of "We make money by respecting the customer" at a company, you can expect the customer to get screwed over as soon as some marketing dude deems it convenient.
    • Re:Not surprising (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JasonKChapman (842766)
      "...respecting the customer..." I'm sure they do respect their customers. The mistake is in thinking that the users of their free services are Yahoo!'s customers. They aren't. They're the product. The adverstisers, or perhaps piggybacking software companies, are the customers. The free service is the means used to produce Yahoo!'s primary product: eyeballs.
  • by Futurepower(R) (558542) <MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com> on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @09:30AM (#13603350) Homepage

    Over the years, I have learned to have zero (0) trust in Yahoo.

    From the Business Week article:

    "Sure, no one issue will turn off Yahoo users in droves." One issue will definitely convince a large percentage of people never to visit Yahoo.

    Another quote:

    "... Yahoo risks tarnishing its reputation as a trustworthy Net player." Notice that doing an internet search is called "Googling". For knowledgeable people, Yahoo has a bad reputation. For others, Yahoo has no reputation at all.

    Business writers write a lot of DISGUSTING nonsense about computer technology:

    "To Yahoo's credit, it is leading industrywide discussions aimed at devising new practices for the adware companies." Here's another quote: "Yahoo also insists it does business only with adware companies that adhere to best practices..."

    It seems to me that Yahoo cannot compete, so it is trying every trick to stay alive.

    Not real news: AOL and Yahoo and MSN will merge. The combined company will be called CyberHell.
  • Yahoo's Reputation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rlp (11898) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @09:36AM (#13603405)
    Yahoo risks tarnishing their reputation by turning over e-mail accounts of dissidents to the mainland Chinese government. Compared to that, adware is nothing.
    • A lot of people will not care too much about things that do not directly affect them (e.g. Chinese dissidents in China), but do care about things that directly affect them (e.g. pop-up adverts on their webpages).

      Indeed, how can I organise the online protest against Chinese draconian government with all these pop-ups all over the place????
    • by clifyt (11768) <sonikmatter AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @09:56AM (#13603585) Homepage
      As much as I hate it, they do have to follow the law of the land.

      If the US government had asked them to turn over email for accounts that originated in the US and were maintained on US servers, and the courts agreed with this decision -- they'd turn it over too...just the same way you'd roll if the gov't and the court system told you to do something.

      What? You think that just because they are a US company that they don't need to follow the laws in countries they do business?

      Again, I don't agree with it either...but so long as they maintain a physical business presence there, they need to follow the law like anyone else.
      • clifyt wrote:

        What? You think that just because they are a US company that they don't need to follow the laws in countries they do business?

        No, I think there's a cost associated with doing the right thing. Sometimes that cost can be quite high. Whether you're willing to pay that cost says what type of person or what type of company you are. I think we now know what type of company Yahoo is.
        • It's easy to say it's "doing the right thing," but who wants to see large international corporations enforcing U.S. laws in various countries? China already has its history of economic colonialism and it sparked revolutions for more than a hundred years, culminating in the Communist revolution.

          I disagree with the ruling. I get annoyed at Chinese web censorship here in Shanghai. At the same time, it's not like China is the only nation to jail reporters for reporting (just ask Judy Miller, who kept her so

    • by Ender Ryan (79406) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:58AM (#13604150) Journal
      In the U.S. now, due to the Patriot Act, the federal government can detain anyone for any reason for any length of time and pretty much do to them anything they want. Therefore, if a company operating in the U.S. receives a court order to turn over information, they should refuse, otherwise they may be unknowingly complicit in violating someone's civil rights.

      I really, really doubt the police in China told Yahoo what the investigation was about; you know, police are like that. They just demand information, and the law compels you to obey.

      Perhaps we should have a trade embargo against China? That is, logically, the only way to go following your logic. If you operate in China, you have to follow the law. If you don't follow the law, you can't operate in China. The law, in your opinion(and mine too, certainly), violates the peoples' civil rights.

      So, how about we stop all trade with China. Seems to be working just wonderfully for the people in Cuba...

      Look, Yahoo isn't personally accountable for the actions of the Chinese government. The authorities demanded information and Yahoo obeyed the law. Did they even know what the investigation was about? It's not like the executives at Yahoo said, "No let's see. Who's civil rights can we violate today?" Give us a fucking break.

      This is a political matter that deserves attention. When we have some politicians that aren't mouth breathing shit eaters, maybe it can be properly addressed. And perhaps when we damand the same of ourselves that we demand of others, we won't look like fucking hypocrites.

      • Perhaps we should have a trade embargo against China?
        What? Are you insane? Bankrupt Wall-Marde you want??? You must be un-american to want to bankupt Wall-Marde! Without China, how else would get the cheap communist slave-made shit it's peddling to us?
    • If a US Law Enforcement agency asks Yahoo for your account information, Yahoo will probably provide it. And this isn't unusual-- most business will comply with a warrant.

      Good or evil, one thing is clear -- if you don't obey the law of the land, you aren't allowed to do business in that land.
    • They might care more about the Chinese dissidents if they knew the death vans each have quotas to fill and they turn the executed into cosmetics products... http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/200 5/09/14/2003271560/print [taipeitimes.com]

      Slather some more dead people on your face. Enjoy it!

       
  • Actvely? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ave19 (149657) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @09:42AM (#13603459)
    Are the editors actively supporting spell checkers?

    I'm joking!
  • I have to say I agree 100%. I've never seen a company that tries to inject it's craptacular toolbars, utilities, etc into a legit software installation as much as Yahoo does. I went to upgrade to Adobe Reader 7 last night, and could not remove the Yahoo Toolbar even when doing a custom install. Now I still run Adobe 6. People download the Google Toolbar of their own volition, because they *want* to. I guess Yahoo realizes they can't compete, or maybe they just think this approach is easier than trying
  • by bedelman (42523) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:00AM (#13603610) Homepage
    For those who are interested, see my article that (I think it's safe to say) sparked a portion of the Business Week piece:

    How Yahoo Funds Spyware [benedelman.org]

    I post screenshots and packet logs showing how Yahoo ads get syndicated into notorious spyware -- Direct Revenue, eXact Advertising, 180solutions, and some smaller players too (SideFind, Slotchbar, etc.).

  • ... my Adobe Acrobat Reader upgrade wants to install the Yahoo toolbar. And no, I cannot opt out.

    • .. my Adobe Acrobat Reader upgrade wants to install the Yahoo toolbar. And no, I cannot opt out.

      Gah! That sounds evil.

      It's definitely not good when you have no choice but to install software you don't want to get software you need.
  • by Rocketship Underpant (804162) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:11AM (#13603724)
    Yahoo's engineers and marketers have already had their first stab at ruining Flickr, the wonderful photo-sharing website. The simple, friendly, three-question signup that worked so well before has been turned into a ghastly Yahoo ID signup process that includes the usual corporate interrogation and other goofiness spread across multiple pages and redirects.

    Just wait till the rest of Flickr gets the Yahoo treatment.

    http://37signals.com/svn/archives2/flickr_signup_f rom_human_to_droid_in_a_yahoo_moment.php [37signals.com]
  • but it's probably what the suits want.

    It's the same case at Microsoft, I've noticed. The engineers tend to be do-no-evil kind of folk yet market forces elsewhere dictate otherwise. Go figure.
  • by rAiNsT0rm (877553) on Tuesday September 20, 2005 @10:25AM (#13603826) Homepage
    Yahoo OWNS Intermix through Overture who has lost some massive court cases involving spyware. So this is no real surprise. Intermix was ordered to pay 7.5 Million in a seattle case. http://www.technewsworld.com/story/43894.html [technewsworld.com]
  • Great article, it almost got the context of Zawodny's comments correct. In his post he was talking about the bundling of the Yahoo Search Toolbar with other Yahoo products. Adware was not mentioned once. http://jeremy.zawodny.com/blog/archives/005121.htm l [zawodny.com]
  • Twisted comments (Score:2, Informative)

    by Escalus (651270)
    Not sure if anyone noticed, but Jeremy Zawodny made some comments about these /. discussions in his blog, claiming that his words were twisted: Slashdot Twists My Words about Yahoo [zawodny.com]

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