Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Look what today.com did now -- this is unbelievable

Poetic Shutterbug wrote, in the comments section of the previous post, "I found the post and when I clicked on the link to get to the post a new page came up with porn photos and links. That happened three times. I couldn't even get to the post. So, I guess they are up to their old tricks again. It's pretty sad."

I tried it with my old blog, and found the same thing. It's really unbelievable. I feel as if they had taken a dump all over my work.

I took screen shots:

The porn ads take up more than one screen. If you scroll down past that, you get to my blog -- but it's covered by a translucent black overlay, so it can't be read:

If I hit "page down" 36 times (!), I finally get to the end of the overlay:

I tested a few of Today's currently-active blogs, and this didn't happen, so it looks like they did it only to the Exile blogs.

Perhaps they think it's a joke.

It may be worth reporting it to Google -- Google hates when you have this kind of misdirection.

Editing to add: If you want to report them to Google,here's the place to do it: Google spam report

P.S. I'm wondering if there might be a defamation lawsuit in this. They are hurting the reputation associated with our pen names by making it look, to web searchers, as if we are ourselves were porn spammers. I put a lot of work into building up the credibility and reputation of my writing name, and I don't want to see it destroyed by these clowns.

Editing again to add: I just looked up "Celebrity-frenzy.com" which is the name on the top of the porn-ad box, and (why am I not surprised?) the domain is owned by Amosely, which is one of the Today companies that we've come across before.

Update 9/16/09: Today.com removed the overlays this morning! I just love stories with happy endings. A big round of applause to everyone who made this happen by putting the pressure on Today.


Poetic Shutterbug September 15, 2009 at 4:10 PM  

I checked a few more older blogs that I remembered and the same thing happened. I don't know what their motive is if any but I'm not going to put up with it. Not only am I reporting them, I'm going to do a write up on my blog. The fact that it is only on the older blogs and not their newer or active ones, tells me it's not a glitch in their system but rather deliberate. They're not going to get away with this. They've really pissed me off now.

Ms Terri September 15, 2009 at 4:13 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ms Terri September 15, 2009 at 4:14 PM  

Same here.

Thanks, Jo, for finding out about this in the first place, and for letting us know.

Poetic Shutterbug September 15, 2009 at 4:22 PM  

I just went ahead and reported them to Google. What bothers me is that my blogs and I'm assuming many of our old blogs still come up when doing google searches. This is embarrassing and disgusting and they're going to have to put a stop to it. I am going to make sure to alert as many bloggers as I can about this. It's wrong and deceptive.

Poetic Shutterbug September 15, 2009 at 4:37 PM  

I've just done a write up. I've also used your blog header as a pic, hope that's okay. http://poeticshutterbug.blogspot.com/2009/09/todaycom-deceptive-practices-in-porn.html

Ms Terri September 15, 2009 at 4:38 PM  

I totally agree, and I have reported them too. I think Google cracks down pretty hard on websites that use these kinds of deceptive practices, because it hurts the integrity of their own search results.

Ms Terri September 15, 2009 at 4:42 PM  

Oops. Simultaneous posting. ;-) My 4:38 comment ("I totally agree ...") was in response to your 4:22.

In response to your last comment, it's fine to use my screenshot on your blog -- but take a look -- it didn't come out. For some reason, it picked up the Today Exiles header instead.

Poetic Shutterbug September 15, 2009 at 4:52 PM  

Terri, I changed it to the 125 x 125 widget. I checked a few more blogs that I could remember and they are all re-directing. It's unbelievable really, though I do remember a time when you had caught the same thing while our blogs were still active and they just shrugged it off.

Ms Terri September 15, 2009 at 4:53 PM  

P.S. Oops, I reread your comment, and I think you meant to use the header that you used. (I just got confused when you said "my" header because it's not mine -- I think that Flit is the one who set it all up and who actually owns the Exile blog.)

Anyway, I read your post -- good post!! If you don't mind, I'll add in a clickable link here to make it a little easier for people to find it:

Poetic Shutterbug's post on Today.com's deceptive practices

Ms Terri September 15, 2009 at 4:58 PM  

Simultaneous posting again! Now I'm answering your 4:52. Both the header and the widget are part of the Today Exile blog (which is not my blog). (I just got confused because I thought you meant that you wanted to use my screenshots, but I can see now that's not what you meant.)

I also checked another of the old Exile-written Today blogs, and got the same spam redirection. They are clearly singling out the Exile blogs for the spam treatment.

Poetic Shutterbug September 15, 2009 at 5:00 PM  

Terri, thanks for making it clickable. I did not know how to do that :)

Ms Terri September 15, 2009 at 5:33 PM  

You're welcome. The secret is to type out the HTML code for a link by hand, because there is no widget thingamajig.

P.S. I'll help spread the word about this to some of the other Exiles.

Laura September 15, 2009 at 6:01 PM  

Interesting. I've been getting some comments on my old storytime blog - 5 or 6 in the last month or so. One of them said that when they clicked on my blog, their virus protection lit up. I've also had a number of strange comments, such as "I've seen this before."

Have you also been getting emails from today regarding some kind of daily awards thing? I've gotten about 10 of them or so.

Ms Terri September 15, 2009 at 6:12 PM  

I haven't gotten any email from them since the one several months ago urging me to buy advertising on their site (ha).

Thanks for the warning about the virus protection lighting up. I'm going to scan my system now.

What do you think "I've seen this before" means?

hospitalera September 15, 2009 at 6:29 PM  

Sorry to make myself un-favorite here, but to me it looks like they got hacked (the whole today.com domain) is down at the moment. I would suggest everybody calms down before screaming "murder".
Second possibility: The screenshots look to me similar as the typical ads pages that are served on parked domain, and these ads are based on the keywords in the domain name. The culprit here in the example is most likely "frenzy". I had something similar happened to me as I parked a domain with the words "talk photo" in the domain name. SY

Phyl September 15, 2009 at 6:36 PM  

Would it really have been hacked, though, if one of the sites that springs up is actually a porn site owned by the same people who own TD.c?

Ms Terri September 15, 2009 at 6:41 PM  

I doubt they got hacked. The ad pages seemed to have been selectively placed on "Exile" blogs -- and only Dave, or his cohorts, would know who we were. Also, the company that makes the ad boxes -- celebrity-frenzy.com -- is one of Today's own companies, registed to our old friend Amosely Corp. of Toronto.

I just tried the site, and they are up. Perhaps it was just down for a sec when you tried it. (I remember it used to be glitchy that way.)

Valerie September 15, 2009 at 6:42 PM  

Okay, I'm officially furious. I reported both of my blogs to Google. Doing random searches for TV and movie stuff, both my blogs came up in the first page of results. My blog comes up at first, but then the same crap porn links overlay it like above.

Does this mean we can have all of our old blog posts back, since they're not letting anyone read them?

What a bunch of slimebags. I'm so glad I managed to take my header with my pen name off of the TV one. I really hope Google gets them for this.

Phyl September 15, 2009 at 6:44 PM  

And by the way -- I went to my own blog just now, and got that "Celebrity Frenzy" page. But I went to Mike's blog (Science Fun) at Td.c, and got his blog.

So it is our former sites, and not the whole Today.com system. Those rats.

Ms Terri September 15, 2009 at 6:47 PM  

It's actually not a porn site itself, but an ad box with links to porn sites. The porn sites themselves (based on a very quick spotcheck) seemed to be owned by someone else. It's the ad box that belongs to the Today folks.

I remember reading somewhere that one of Dave's earliest businesses was "porn site marketing," and that seems to be what this is about.

It's just disgusting that they are using our old blogs for bait, as if our blogs were garbage. Which I guess, to them, they are.

Well, as the saying goes, karma can be such a bitch.

Carrie K. September 15, 2009 at 6:47 PM  

I just checked - and their main site is up just fine and clicking on their top blogs doesn't produce the same result - i.e. no porn ad overlay. Books and Movies has had the same treatment - I'm going to contact Google, too - and write a post.

Off topic, but has anyone tried using one of their old posts on their current blogs? I took one of my book reviews, and had no repercussions but was wondering about the rest of you.

Ms Terri September 15, 2009 at 6:49 PM  

Phyl said, "So it is our former sites, and not the whole Today.com system. Those rats."

Yes, exactly.

They probably think it's funny. Or else they think we can't do anything about it. They would be wrong on both counts.

Carrie K. September 15, 2009 at 6:51 PM  

One more thing - when reporting it to Google - what do we call it? Is it a cloaked page? or a misdirect?

Ms Terri September 15, 2009 at 6:58 PM  

Carrie wrote: "Off topic, but has anyone tried using one of their old posts on their current blogs? I took one of my book reviews, and had no repercussions but was wondering about the rest of you."

I've used some of my old posts, but I edited them quite a bit, first to try to make them better (I'm a lousy first-draft writer anyway) and second to try to avoid being penalized by Google for having duplicate content.

I suppose that Today.com could threaten to sue, but even if they did, I can't imagine they would go through with such a threat. They're on shaky legal grounds to begin with -- their claim that they own the rights probably wouldn't stand up in court -- and even if they had a good claim, it would cost a lot more than it would be worth for them to pursue it.

And then this stunt today killed off any remaining credibility that they might have had.

Poetic Shutterbug September 15, 2009 at 6:59 PM  

hospitalera, they were not hacked because if they were, it would be the entire site. It's only on the exiles. And, I'm not going to mention any names but there are a couple of blogs that have not been updated in months, in other words inactive but the authors work for them and their blogs are fine. So it's a direct hit to us.

Ms Terri September 15, 2009 at 7:00 PM  

@Carrie 6:51 -- I called it a redirect.

Ms Terri September 15, 2009 at 7:48 PM  

@Valerie 6:42 wrote "What a bunch of slimebags. I'm so glad I managed to take my header with my pen name off of the TV one."

I'm really glad you were able to do that.

"I really hope Google gets them for this."

I think they will. Google hates this kind of thing.

But if Today.com is being smart and if they see this post, maybe they'll pull down the overlays before Google comes along to penalize them.

I just thought of a silver lining. You know how we worry about how our old Today.com blogs are competing with our new blogs? Well, after this, I think we'll have a lot less to worry about.

Even if Today pulls the ads down before Google starts investigating their whole site, I think there is still some kind of automated system which moves links up and down the Google pages according to whether searchers find what they want, or if they back out and select a different link from the Google page instead.

And every search that lands on an Exile Today blog with its tacky overlays will lead to an immediate retreat back to the Google page for a better link.

Which means the Today.com links should start to sink (if my sense of how all this works is correct).

Ms Terri September 15, 2009 at 8:23 PM  

I was just thinking this is probably a good time, for those of us who have been procrastinating about making a copy of our old blogs for our files, to do so.

I was just expermenting with the Today blog, and I found that if I hit the "stop" button on my browser when the page first comes up, I could prevent the overlay from loading. So now I should be able to copy it....

Got it! Whew.

Quadmama September 15, 2009 at 9:15 PM  

Yeah, I've got the same crap on my old blog, too. When you click on "leave this page" another freaking ad pops up. You can never get to the actual blog. All I can say is: Not surprised. And... LAME!

flit September 15, 2009 at 11:01 PM  

I don't think they got hacked - if they had, it wouldn't be their own porn companies that they're advertising.

Idiots - surely it can't be doing anything good for their reputations with new bloggers or advertisers!

Stephanie B September 15, 2009 at 11:04 PM  

I can avoid it but they've got it on both my old blogs.

flit September 15, 2009 at 11:23 PM  

I only checked BTSFG - but no doubt its on the others as well. They sunk to new lows - hope it ends up biting them in the arse - hard.

hospitalera September 16, 2009 at 3:44 AM  

@ MS Terri
It is not a redirect as the url doesn't change, it is simply a bad functioning pop up ad. I would be careful to report them for that to Google, SY

Poetic Shutterbug September 16, 2009 at 12:01 PM  

This is no Terri, this is Joanne.

I don't care if it's a popup, a re-direct or otherwise. It is only directed toward exiles blogs and as a result is deliberate and wrong. They have already been reported to Google and as far as I'm concerned it won't stop there until they take that popup or whatever it is down.

Poetic Shutterbug September 16, 2009 at 12:04 PM  

Whether it was Google or this forum, I don't know but it seems that they've listened. I checked mine and a few other blogs and it's been corrected.

Ms Terri September 16, 2009 at 12:42 PM  

That's great! We should all give ourselves a pat on the back!

Phyl September 17, 2009 at 8:31 AM  

Carrie, I've used at least one of my old posts on my new blog. I might have tweaked a word or two, but essentially it's still the same post, with the same photo that originally went with the first one.

So far nobody has made any kind of fuss.

And as to just "leaving it behind because it's in the past" -- no it bloody well is not "in the past." Someone on another blog said they had researched the blogger's name and only got a result on Google if they also included "Today.com" as a search term. But that is not how our best posts were found in the first place -- they were found via the keywords attached to that post itself.

But once those come up in a Google search, that's when people find the other garbage attached to our name and former blogs. And we get associated with that crap.

Plus, "in the past" or not, this is/was a deliberate, direct, cynical use of people Today.com kicked out themselves, trying to boost their own revenues in a very, very sleazy way. We can not just sit back and let ourselves be used this way.

Ms Terri September 17, 2009 at 9:37 AM  

@Phyl, that was well said, and I totally agree.

Our names also show up sometimes on the Google results page itself when someone does a keyword search. In the little summaries that Google puts under the links, they sometimes pull up different pieces of the target blog page, all smushed together, and sometimes one of those pieces is the post's byline.

As for things being in the past --- this happened yesterday! Ha.

Anonymous,  September 17, 2009 at 12:41 PM  

My old blog at Today is cover by celebrity-frenzy, and I still receive you've earned 60 points email everyday. They kicked me off their system and use my email address to spam me..Reported!

Anonymous,  September 20, 2009 at 4:31 PM  

I just checked Womenoverfifty.today.com and it's OK. However, Today.com seems to be bogged down. It's loading really slowly. Too bad, isn't it?

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