[personal profile] puzzlelady
Originally posted on Friday, February 24, 2012

The newest wrinkle in online depredation is something called "Text-enhance", a euphemism for attaching links to innocent-looking words on pages you are reading, including even your very own webpage. If you click on one of those links, an ad or survey pops up which ultimately turns into a phishing expedition for your cell phone number.

After a few of these happened to me in February 2012, I visited the Text Enhance website to see what they are up to. What a bunch of newspeak. Turns out, you have to opt out of their already planted cookie that let them invade your computer without your knowledge, rather than opt in. Even if you opt out, once you clean out your cookies they can have at you all over again, and you need to revisit each time to opt out again. In a fit of indignation, I emailed them the following:

Hello, "Text-enhancers",

I am outraged that your links appear in my own website, spontaneously, evidently selecting certain keywords to which to attach a survey message. Clicking innocently on such a link brings in a voice and overrides my viewing of the webpage. This is unacceptable!

Calling this "creating a meaningful relationship between advertisers and consumers" is like saying that rape is building a meaningful relationship between rapist and victim.

Your offering a blocking cookie that has to be renewed after every cookie clean-up is also unacceptable. You should not be able to place a link without my opting IN first.

I am most outraged that these invasions are in my own sacrosanct code. Yes, I know it does not embed itself into the HTML code itself, but it looks to viewers as though I had intended to put it there. That's like expecting me to hold down the victims while you rape them.

You are trespassing on my website and my time. This is a frontal attack, and unless you stop it immediately, we will get the wrath of the entire Internet down upon you. We stopped SOPA and PIPA. Do you think we can't swat your mosquito bites?

The messages that have invaded my viewing so far have been surveys that fish for cell phone numbers by offering "gifts". Walmart seems to be the biggest "sponsor", unless they are also having their identity stolen for this scam.

What is most objectionable is that links with double underlines at least provide a warning that there is an ad lurking behind them. The text-enhance links I am complaining about don't look different from the normal ones in my texts. They hide, camouflaged from the viewer, ready to snag the unwary.

No one wants you. You are creating resentful relationships between viewers and any alleged advertisers. This hare-brained scheme has to stop. Close up shop before others do it for you. There must be a better career for you clever hackers.

-- Kate Jones


Of course, I have received no answer back. I can only wonder how long they will continue in business. So watch for any unexpected links during your Web travels and beware of clicking on them.



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