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The Dark Side of Paid Search 125

Tough Lefty writes "A new study by McAfee's SiteAdvisor Web ratings finds that sponsored results from some of the biggest names in the search engine business contain spyware, spam, scams and other Internet menaces. The key findings were that major search engines returned risky sites in their search results for popular keywords and sponsored results contained two to four times as many dangerous sites as organic results. Overall, MSN search results had the lowest percentage (3.9%) of dangerous sites while Ask search results had the highest percentage (6.1%). Google was in between (5.3%). Check the comprehensive study for all the data."
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The Dark Side of Paid Search

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  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Friday May 12, 2006 @03:42PM (#15320573) Homepage Journal
    ...get something you didn't bargain for.

    Really, is this even remotely news?
  • Re:That's good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @03:56PM (#15320720)
    As a libertarian, you shouldn't care if someone's selling rat poison as viagra.

    Yea, who needs a centralized protection. It's all natural. See AIDS for example. It's not as if having no immune system affects your life or anything.
  • by Mr Z ( 6791 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @04:19PM (#15320877) Homepage Journal

    And, the results aren't too surprising. MSN came in lowest, but at the same time, it's probably the least dependent on generating ad revenue. Google's the biggest, but has a repuation to maintain, so it probably does at least some filtering of advertisers. Ask keeps tring to reinvent itself back to relevance...

  • Re:That's good. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Foolicious ( 895952 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @04:29PM (#15320979)

    At risk of naively responding to someone who posted something in order to make a point, libertarianism is a philosophy based on the principle that individuals should be allowed complete freedom of action as long as they do not infringe on the same freedom of others. I'm not a libertarian, but I'm guessing they'd lump poisoning (whether the victim is limp-penised or not) under the whole freedom of others thingee.

    That said, the interesting part of the discussion (besides connecting the dots in order to equate putting spyware on a machine with poisoning someone) is finding out where exactly you draw the line in terms of determining real infringement. Maybe that's where "libertarianism" falls apart.

  • Duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter ( 970822 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @04:32PM (#15321008)
    From TFA:
    The most dangerous keywords include "free screensavers," "bearshare," "kazaa," "download music" and "free games."
    Er, so the results on searches specifically for products that include spyware are particularly likely to include spyware. Well, duh.
    Users can't count on search engines to protect them; to the contrary, we find that search result rankings often do not reflect site safety.
    Again, duh. The purpose of search ranking (particularly outside of sponsored results) is rather overtly to reflect relevance. Since relevance is pretty much orthogonal to (in cases where the search is for "kazaa" or "bearshare", perhaps opposed to) safety, it should come as no surprise that search rankings don't have any particularly consistent relation to safety. Expecting that it would is like expecting that you can use the price of a vehicle as a proxy for its gas mileage.
  • by YU Nicks NE Way ( 129084 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @04:47PM (#15321158)
    As are,, and I like that last one a lot.
  • Re:That's good. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jumpingfred ( 244629 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @04:52PM (#15321199)
    As a libertarian, you shouldn't care if someone's selling rat poison as viagra.

    The market will sort it all out - the seller will eventual lose sales as his reputations goes downhill. The invisible hand and all that!

    I don't think that you understand libertarianism. Selling rat poison as viagra is breach of the agreement between the seller and the buyer. As such the buyer or buyers heirs can instigate legal proceedings against the seller.
  • by Mr Z ( 6791 ) on Friday May 12, 2006 @05:21PM (#15321440) Homepage Journal

    Perhaps. My main point, though I could've done better articulating it, is that the only "news" here is that "Some web search results are dangerous; don't expect (Google|MSN|Ask|whoever) to be your nanny." The fact that most of the search engines had differences that were near the noise margin means there's no real strong conclusions you can draw.

    MSN's number is an obvious anomaly that could be explained multiple ways: Microsoft heavily vets its advertisers; advertisers don't think MSN's worth advertising on; and Microsoft doesn't seek advertisers as aggressively because it doesn't need them. All three are plausible, and perhaps the truth is a mixture of the three.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll