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Zango defends Snopes

And the notice and disclosure? Zero, by today’s standards. It’s buried in a massive EULA, as Harvard researcher Ben Edelman has confirmed independantly (opens in new tab). We’re back to 2004 all over again.

Remember that almost two years ago, Zango trumpeted it’s new notice and disclosure, promising:

It’s important to us that consumers understand our products and that they provide full, informed consent before installing our software. Is this the last of our efforts in improving the user experience? Absolutely not.

Now, apparently because this spam blocker is part of their “Hotbar” acquisition, that notice and disclosure is not required.

Zango has a real problem. By our own research, 80% of its business comes from seekmo, the porn side of its business. They need more “legitimate” customers but have an increasingly difficult time getting them. We believe that the company is having a very difficult time actually spending their ad dollars to promote their product, since so few sites will take on their ads.

And now, with Snopes no longer pushing a Zango ad, it’s even harder.

And, separately, Snopes responds:

Reader CD got a response (opens in new tab)from Snopes, which he reports as following:

Thank you for inquiring about the possibility an advertisement that violates our acceptable advertising guidelines at may have been displaying to some visitors to our site.

Ok, I’ll give the Mikkelsons the benefit of the doubt. It’s possible that the advertisements we observed were based on geolocation, and it’s quite possible that the they never knew that the ad was pushing adware.

I wouldn’t stop using Snopes. It’s a good service. I’ll keep checking the site, but I really doubt you’ll ever see anything like this happen again.

However, one part of the strategy of the Antispyware Coalition to reform the business is “public shaming” — that is, to shine light on bad practices. Snopes has learned a hard lesson. They’ve stopped pushing these ads, and the internet community is a bit of a better place now.

And that, folks, is a good thing.

Alex is a technology CEO, with leadership, operating partner, investor, and board member roles at security firms including AutoLoop, Borland, Quarterdeck (now Symantec and Cisco WebEx), GFI/TeamViewer, Sunbelt Software (now ThreatTrack Security), BlueStripe Software, StopBadware, Knowbe4, Malwarebytes, and Runaware Holding AB. When CEO of Sunbelt he ran a security blog, and he still writes on security.