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Adbusters Suggests Click Fraud As Protest 390

Posted by timothy
from the they-never-suggest-wine-pairings-do-they dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In response to Google's recently announced plans to expand the tracking of users, the international anti-advertising magazine Adbusters proposes that we collectively embark on a civil disobedience campaign of intentional, automated 'click fraud' in order to undermine Google's advertising program in order to force Google to adopt a pro-privacy corporate policy. They have released a GreaseMonkey script that automatically clicks on all AdSense ads."
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Adbusters Suggests Click Fraud As Protest

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  • "Protest"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:54PM (#27173905) Homepage

    Won't this just make Google more money?

    It's not like the advertisers can go somewhere else. If you want search ads, there's only one place to go.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:56PM (#27173935)
      Yo, Dawg! I herd you like clickin' ads so I put an ad in yo ad so you can click while you click!
    • Re:"Protest"? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by biocute (936687) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:58PM (#27173965) Homepage

      Not really.

      This only makes Google more money if Google keeps those false clicks and charges the advertisers, which will undermine its AdSense products.

      And it will cost Google a lot of time and money to validate whether a click is fraud or not if enough people start doing it.

      And you really should do it manually, randomly and intermittently, otherwise Google could just delete a bunch of clicks from the same IP address in short timeframe.

      • Re:"Protest"? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by slashkitty (21637) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:22PM (#27174287) Homepage
        Google's process is much more sophisticated then that. They collectively look at sites and users and track the users through the purchase or 'goal' to calculate the value of clicks and ROI. Most adsense ad click's value is dynamic and dependent on many things.

        Automated (or random) clicking will only hurt the sites that you visit, by lowering the value of the entire site's ads.

        • by Tanktalus (794810)

          Anything that hurts the advertisers using AdSense hurts Google. If Google doesn't listen to their customers (i.e., advertisers), those advertisers will go elsewhere. If elsewhere doesn't exist, I'm sure Yahoo! or Microsoft or someone will start an "elsewhere" to go to.

          I'm not advocating the civil disobedience (or slamming it, for that matter), merely noting that it really doesn't matter where it hits - Google's ability to get advertisers to use their service will be impacted.

        • Re:"Protest"? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Idiomatick (976696) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @11:02PM (#27176869)
          MOD PARENT UP. This will only hurt the sites you like and visit. It will have a meager damaging effect on Google and annoy their advertisers before the costs get cut from the ad hosts aka the sites you like.

          But really the whole mission statement of Adbusters is stupid. Removing all ads from the internet will destroy pretty much every service on the internet. Think youtube would be profitable without ads? How about any site you visit with alot of images. Bandwidth isn't free so sites make money from either ads, donations or memberships. Most sites with memberships remove the ads for you so this goal is STUPID. Just use Adblock if you hate them so much

          WARNING OFFTOPIC: A side note about Google, more specifically youtube pissing me off. I bought a bass guitar and went to find a youtube-mentor. Found an amazing player giving lessons, he had around 100 videos up totaling millions of views. The guys name is MarloweDK http://www.playbassnow.com/ [playbassnow.com] . A few days ago he was inexplicably banned from youtube unable to even create another account. Some of his clips showed him playing along to music and teaching you various songs. But this goes against even youtubes stated policies. If music playing on speakers in the background being played over by a bass (much louder for students to learn) is even against the rules. Then only the audio feed should be cut according to youtube. But his whole account was banned. If any more resourceful /.ers want to help it would be appreciated I'm sure. Even if you don't like bass it is a fairly brazen attack on fair use.
          • Nice strawman... (Score:3, Informative)

            by terrahertz (911030)

            But really the whole mission statement of Adbusters is stupid. Removing all ads from the internet will destroy pretty much every service on the internet. Think youtube would be profitable without ads? How about any site you visit with alot of images. Bandwidth isn't free so sites make money from either ads, donations or memberships. Most sites with memberships remove the ads for you so this goal is STUPID. Just use Adblock if you hate them so much

            ...but here's the actual mission statement:

            "We are a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age. Our aim is to topple existing power structures and forge a major shift in the way we will live in the 21st century. To this end, Adbusters Media Foundation publishes Adbusters magazine, operates this website and offers its creative services through PowerShift, our advocacy adverti

      • Re:"Protest"? (Score:4, Informative)

        by HTH NE1 (675604) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:30PM (#27174417)

        And it will cost Google a lot of time and money to validate whether a click is fraud or not if enough people start doing it.

        Nah, just a simple matter of Javascript to test if you have certain pieces of chrome installed relating to this script to determine if the clicks are fake. No Javascript, no ads for the plug-in to click on anyway. Then the plug-in is going to have to randomize where it stores its chrome evade detection.

        • Re:"Protest"? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:45PM (#27174669)

          Nah, just a simple matter of Javascript to test if you have certain pieces of chrome installed relating to this script to determine if the clicks are fake. No Javascript, no ads for the plug-in to click on anyway. Then the plug-in is going to have to randomize where it stores its chrome evade detection.

          Advertisers really don't want to get into this arms race. They're bound to lose. The browser has resources at its disposal that no web page can. If someone were so inclined, he could create a method of hiding ads that scripting running in a sandbox couldn't possibly detect. Image elements would seen normal; popup windows could be virtualized.

          Oh, sure, advertisers will try to run timing attacks and such, but those can be faked as well. Ultimately, all the advertiser is doing is wasting resources he can better spend creating ads that people don't feel so strongly opposed to seeing.

      • by Sockatume (732728)
        I thought web advertisers moved on from charging per-click a long time ago anyway, in much the same way as they moved on from charging per-page-impression.
        • by dangitman (862676)
          Where have you been? Google Adwords is huge, millions of advertisers are paying per click today.
    • Re:"Protest"? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by omeomi (675045) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:13PM (#27174167) Homepage
      I've always found it interesting that Adbusters does actually contain advertisements. Not many, but they do have ads for, like, shoes made from recycled tires or something... It is an interesting magazine, if you can find it, though.
      • by icebike (68054)

        This is especially ironic when their
        stated purpose on their masthead is to rid the internet of ads.

        I'm not so sure that is totally a good idea.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Requiem18th (742389)

          Because Adbuster is only against *evil* ads. e.g.
          popup, popunder, flash, loud, javascript heavy, annoying animations, privacy invasions, etc.

  • by Xtravar (725372) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:55PM (#27173925) Homepage Journal

    Actually, I think I already have Google ads blocked...

    Will false-positives hurt them more than just adblocking them?

    • by phorest (877315)

      Yes, it will hurt their advertisers more initially though.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Joebert (946227)
        Advertisers have little if anything to worry about, Google is already setup to refund advertisers for fraudulent clicks.

        The publishers who get banned from the program with one of Googles famously vague "Because you're a risk to our advertisers" notices, or who are wondering why they've got thousands of clicks showing up on their account but no revenue, will be hurt.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BikeHelmet (1437881)

      Have a conscience. Block them - don't fraudulently click them.

      • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:17PM (#27174237) Homepage Journal

        "don't fraudulently click them."

        what they hell does that mean? how can you fraudulently click something?

        • by dattaway (3088) *

          how can you fraudulently click something?

          Some lawmaker thought it would be a great idea to make it against the law to request information under certain conditions.

        • by rake74 (1499239) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:40PM (#27174563)

          You're being obtuse. The intent of the statement was clear. In case it wasn't to you, allow me to help clarify.

          From wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Click_fraud [wikipedia.org]:

          Click fraud is a type of Internet crime that occurs in pay per click online advertising when a person, automated script, or computer program imitates a legitimate user of a web browser clicking on an ad for the purpose of generating a charge per click without having actual interest in the target of the ad's link. Click fraud is the subject of some controversy and increasing litigation due to the advertising networks being a key beneficiary of the fraud.

          Use of a computer to commit this type of Internet fraud is a felony in many jurisdictions, for example, as covered by Penal code 502 in California, USA, and the Computer Misuse Act 1990 in the United Kingdom. There have been arrests relating to click fraud with regard to malicious clicking in order to deplete a competitor's advertising budget[citation needed].

          While not being done 'for a profit' it's still an asshat move to make.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by John Hasler (414242)

            It is not actionable if the clicker does not expect to profit by it.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by FatdogHaiku (978357)
              I would not bet on that. A quick look at the California law shows plenty of ambiguity.
              http://nsi.org/Library/Compsec/computerlaw/Californ.txt [nsi.org]
              Here are a couple of catchy little numbers from that page, all under the sub heading "any person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of a public offense":

              Knowingly and without permission disrupts or causes the disruption of computer services or denies or causes the denial of computer services to an authorized user of a computer, computer system, or comp
        • by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @08:52PM (#27175949) Homepage Journal

          Look mean while you press the button.

    • by cjb658 (1235986) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @07:45PM (#27175387) Journal

      Actually, I think I already have Google ads blocked...

      Will false-positives hurt them more than just adblocking them?

      Way more.

      I'm an AdWords user and I pay $1 every time someone clicks my ad.

      I quit using their "affiliates" because I was getting a lot of clicks from cybersquatting sites.

  • I think the better approach is to give Google the finger and start using other tools.
    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@NOsPAM.gmail.com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @10:46PM (#27176769) Journal

      Yahoo search is REALLY good now, seriously. The links are a lot more often exactly what I am looking for, and unlike the "more" tab on Google, which just tries to push more Google crap like Google Blogs, the "more" tab is actually really useful. For example, let us say I put in Bioshock. Under the more tab it would have Bioshock reviews, patches, cheats, walkthroughs, etc. For the Dark Knight it has Dark Knight movie, trailer, Christopher Nolan, Heath ledger, etc.

      So if you want to stick it to Google and their spying BS, why not try Yahoo? Competition is always good, Yahoo Search is really nice now, and it certainly stomps anything MSFT has ever done in the search field(not that it is hard to top them) but it really is a nicer experience IMHO than Google search. So why not give it a go? All you have to lose is a little time.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Yahoo still doesn't get it done for me - I still often have to search elsewhere for what I need. I mainly now use ask.com. Google's image search is still better but I prefer ask.com for my day-to-day text searches.
  • Adblock? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @05:56PM (#27173945) Journal

    Isn't adblock enough? I hate advertising, but as long as I can opt out it's OK with me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Why do you hate the free market?!

      • Why do you hate the free market?!

        Because in soviet russia, market hates YOU!

      • Re:Adblock? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tony Hoyle (11698) * <tmh@nodomain.org> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:43PM (#27174635) Homepage

        This *is* the free market. Problem (ads) appears, solution (adblock) is developed, and becomes popular.

        Advertisers have no more right to force me to view their ads than coke has to force me to by fizzy drinks.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by LandDolphin (1202876)
          Executive Order 28253 clearly states that you do have to drink Fizzy Drinks.
          • by Tanktalus (794810)

            "This Presidency is brought to you by Coca Cola(TM), 'The Coke side of Politics', and Ford, where Lobbying is Job 2, right after Quality."

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by LandDolphin (1202876)

              'The Coke side of Politics',

              Why bring Ted Kennedy into this?

              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by Anonymous Coward

                'The Coke side of Politics',

                Why bring Ted Kennedy into this?

                Don't you mean Barack Obama [washingtonpost.com]?

        • Re:Adblock? (Score:5, Funny)

          by guyminuslife (1349809) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:50PM (#27174755)

          I know, right! Every time I see a advertisement on a vehicle on the highway, I deliberately don't look at it, so that my mind will not be poisoned by their insidious self-promotion. Makes it more difficult to change lanes, and my insurance went way up after I rear-ended one of them, but hey, freedom isn't free.

          Also, I insist that girls who wear shirts that have logos on them take them off in my presence.

    • In this particular case, adblock seems to be enough. However, I'd be very hesitant to go down the "X evil action is OK; because I have Y techie workaround" path. In the short term, among people of sufficient technical skill, that is generally true. For the newbs at large, it isn't, and over the long term, it may not be. Adblock won't help a bit, for instance, if Phorm or Nebuad pay your ISP to spy on your for them.
  • Advertisers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by biocute (936687) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:00PM (#27174013) Homepage

    If I was an AdWords user, I would pull all of my bids now and let other advertisers exhausted theirs first.

    Then a "word" will be easier and cheaper to get.

  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:01PM (#27174019) Journal

    We're talking about tagging cookies to a browser, keeping data browser-end, and having the browser send data back to the server for statistics when ads are served.

    Instead, we could skip the cookies. Keep the data on the server, in a database, tied to your IP address and other information collected about you (OS, browser, time of day, etc) and do much more extensive research.

    When you clear your cookies, you're removed from Google's "Database" ... YOU are requesting THEM to send you ads based on information YOU are tracking using THEIR program. THEY are not tracking everything you do, because damn, it'd be hard to uniquely identify you when your cookies expire and drop your UUID stored in a cookie and they wind up with 40 database entries for your ONE browser because you clear cookies every session.

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      I liked it better the first time I heard this in the 90's; back before Google owned Doubleclick. It was so fresh back then. Back when Doubleclick claimed that they would never use their cookies to identify an individual. That's before Doubleclick aquired Abacus and then started using affiliate web sites to link cookie IDs to names.

      Google's version of Doubleclick just sounds like more of the same.

    • by rtechie (244489) *

      Keep the data on the server, in a database, tied to your IP address and other information collected about you (OS, browser, time of day, etc) and do much more extensive research.

      What makes you think they're not going this? I know for sure they keep geodata, which almost certainly means that they keep IPs. You might argue how useful that is given dynamic addresses, but virtually every DHCP pool is limited to a small geographic area and so you can narrow this down pretty quickly. It's pretty easy to get the city and in some areas this could narrow it down to a few blocks.

      And I don't think you can take Google's word for it that they don't tie personal information you enter in services

  • uuh - (Score:3, Insightful)

    by no-body (127863) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:01PM (#27174023)

    smells like a lawsuit coming soon....

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Don't know how google are expected to continue providing free search, maps, mail and all, if they can't get revenue from somewhere else. Ads work for tv and radio, and apparently for web, too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      No one is saying Google can't run ads to support themselves. The issue has to do with their recent decision to track users even more with cookies and the privacy implications.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by glittalogik (837604)

      This isn't a protest against advertising, it's a protest against Google's privacy policy. It's purely because Google need to get paid that hijacking their advertising revenue stream might get their attention. It's effectively blackmail for (depending on your opinion) a noble cause.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rake74 (1499239)
        Then protest by not using their services. If you have ethical concerns about what they're doing, make damn sure your ethics are on target too (and Adblocks is /not/ being ethical - they're being childish). What's wrong with people these days? A company decides to make money, and people get pissed off and try to find way to screw with them? How about the good old fashioned "make a big stink" (protests in the 70s, blogs in 00s) and boycotting? To make a comparison, this is like Rosa Park bus boycott inst
        • by sqlrob (173498)

          How do you not use their services when you're not the customer but the product?

          • You block all there cookies and all their ads. Trivial. Which is why claiming Google is doing something evil is nonsense.

    • Don't know how google are expected to continue providing free search, maps, mail and all, if they can't get revenue from somewhere else.

      By not expanding their tracking. I mean, that seems to be working just fine for them up to now. In all honesty, are they going bankrupt or losing money, or is it just "Hey, we're making boatloads of money, I bet we could make... uh... aircraft carriers of money if we invaded people's privacy!" Because I suspect it's the latter, although since I'm not an investor in google, I haven't been paying attention.

  • by IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:08PM (#27174101) Journal
    We have all seen the "make $10,000 a day using adsense" - won't this only increase the ad revenue for these potential scams and in turn have more of these scam ads proliferating the net?
  • by earlymon (1116185) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:14PM (#27174183) Homepage Journal

    I you want to learn a lot about civil disobedience, web search "civil disobedience carl cohen howard zinn" - and I note that for once I didn't say to google it.

    I studied under Carl Cohen - and highly recommend reading everything by him and Zinn if you want clear thinking on this topic.

    The act of overloading Google with this plan is something that I personally find quite laudable - but it is not civil disobedience. As an ancient hippie, I don't mind saying that this act is simply called, Sticking It To The Man . I'm saddened that today's Man-Stickers are so inundated with political correctness that they can't call an action for what it is.

    As Carl might have said - they emasculate their argument by so doing.

    FWIW, it's not the summary - the stupidity of calling it civil disobedience comes right from TFA.

    • I don't mind saying that this act is simply called, Sticking It To The Man . I'm saddened that today's Man-Stickers are so inundated with political correctness that they can't call an action for what it is.

      The McHippies of today don't want to call it what it is, because it sounds less noble and more venal - and style is more important than substance.

      • by earlymon (1116185)

        The McHippies of today don't want to call it what it is, because it sounds less noble and more venal - and style is more important than substance.

        Right on.

    • by fermion (181285)
      Furthermore, it does not really hurt google. It would be like protesting that fact that one has to sit on the back of the bus by paying to ride on the bus, sitting in the back of the bus, and then acting a fool by defacing the bus or the advertisements. I am sure some would say this was preferable to not taking the bus and walking to work, but history shows otherwise.

      People think that we can protest, yet not give up any of our personal comforts. I am concerned about how Google Earth updates on my mac,

      • by Jack9 (11421)

        The act isn't about "really hurting google" it's about hurting google, which it accomplishes by causing google to pay out on traffic that generates 0 revenue. I don't see how this is anything but pure civil disobedience. Probably as effective, but the same premise and consequence, nonetheless.

        • by earlymon (1116185)

          I don't see how this is anything but pure civil disobedience.

          Google is not a civil authority - it is exactly not civil disobedience.

  • Smart thing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:17PM (#27174233)

    The smart thing for Google to do would be to completely ignore the program, and let advertisers use their usual click-fraud dispute resolution mechanism. By fighting the program, Google would only be giving the program legitimacy. Without the "I'm being oppressed" notoriety, the program will pick up very few users and the total effect on the market will be small.

    I'm not against advertising. I'm against fraudulent, manipulative, and obstructive advertising. Google AdWords typically score relatively low on all three counts, so they're fine with me.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:26PM (#27174335) Homepage

    A better bit would be a Firefox plugin (you can't do greasemonkey, it needs to be lower down) that just strips all references to google adwords, analytics, and doubleclick and replaces them with noops.

    Now google can't track you and you don't see the adds.

    While the "clickfraud" solution sounds cute, those are easy easy to detect and Google will just ignore those clicks.

  • by TSHTF (953742) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:28PM (#27174371) Homepage
    As noted in the second comment in the posted article, Adbusters is using Google Analytics for user tracking. It doesn't seem like Adbusters is really concerned about this issue whatsoever if they allow Google to violate their own users' privacy, all while encouraging click fraud. What is Adbusters thinking?
  • Doesn't "fraud" imply doing something for your own financial gain? What they're talking about is noise injection, trendily known as "culture jamming."

    You don't get sued for culture jamming; you do get sued for fraud. One term sounds criminal (where everyone will say you're the bad guy) and the other sounds subversive (where people will split on whether you're the bad guy or the good guy).

    Poor choice of words on adbusters' part.

  • Google won't be the one hurt here, nor will it be the advertisers. It'll be the poor fools who host ads and attract such a user base that would willingly screw them over.

    Have your site pegged as one committing click fraud, and your account is yanked. It'll be up to them to prove to Google that they were victims here, while their legitimately earned ad revenues trickle away.

    • One possible answer to that would be to only target sites that are in the top tier of Google ad-sense ranking. Google is less likely to just throw them away if they are that significant, to them, as a profit source. Faced with the choice between dropping their most productive ad sites or just watching the value of their ads drop they will be much more likely to respond favorably.

  • Wow. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by spacefiddle (620205) <spacefiddle AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:48PM (#27174717) Homepage Journal

    This makes my brain hurt, teh implications, teh possibilities legal and otherwise...

    i think i have to defer comment and opinion until some experts wander in (are we allowed to do that here? Will my account be locked? ,-) ).

    What does strike me is Protest 2.0.

    SysAlert: new protest available. Download? [Y/N] > y
    ........... done.
    Run protest? [Y/N] > y
    Protest running.

    Of course, i'm gonna complain that no one can be arsed to actually do anything any more, aren't i? And i advocate automation and interfacing with other systems - literally, figuratively, politically, socially, mechanically - whenever possible. So is this looking-askance at Protest.sh a little Luddite slipping in in my old age? Or will it just encourage MORE laziness - oh, if i don't have a button to press, i can't be arsed so prepackage my activism please.

    Brain hurts again :P

    • cd /usr/src/protest-2.0.1a
      make config --belligerence-level=9 --self-righteousness=9 --indignation-level=max \
      --activities-after-compile=play_warcraft,eat_frozen_pizza,watch_simpsons_rerun,attack_bourgeoisie
      make all
      make install

  • by sampson7 (536545) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @06:53PM (#27174787)
    I don't understand this "protest." Google, apparently the target of the protest, gets increased ad revenues, whereas small businesses like mine that use Adsense get... Thousands of dollars in additional advertising costs that are designed to generate no revenue...?

    I admit it -- my small jewelry store (beadstore.com) is not a particularly sophisticated Google customer. I think in 2007, we spent maybe $10,000 over the course of a year advertising on Google. (Since then, we've scaled back considerably -- even though it increased business, cash flow concerns made it impossible to continue.)

    After we started, I handed off control of the budget to someone who didn't quite understand the limits system properly (they're beaders, after all, not techies). She racked up almost a thousand dollars in costs in a single week. Eek! A potentially devestating mistake, since $1,000 in unexpected expenses is a huge amount for a little company like ours. (We learned our lesson and made sure everyone understood the system pronto.)

    Fortunately -- and I'm sure not coincidently -- that week was also one of our biggest grossing weeks ever (though it probably didn't cover the additional advertising costs, at least over the short run). I don't know what we would have done had those costs been driven by non-customers clicking through in some misguided attempt to hurt Google. I'm not looking for sympathy for people who screw up, or suggesting that all Google advertisers are like us, but please remember that a single click can still cost a dollar or more, so a few fraudulent clicks really hurts. Not only does it inflate your advertising costs, but it also denies us of legitimate potential customers (since the system is designed to remove the ads once your target budget is reached). And I suspect we would never know for sure whether we just had a really low click-to-purchase ratio for a given week, or whether we were the victims of an organized fraud (in the non-legal sense, anyway).

    Lastly, Google claims that multiple clicks from the same IP address are filtered out -- of course, I have no idea if their system would prevent what these people are suggesting.
    • The whole thing's stupid. "Privacy" is a buzz-word; people are complaining "Cookies track you" but "cookies" are a piece of data stored on your computer. You delete it, it's gone. It doesn't read your personal information, it doesn't hack your bank accounts, and it's stored on your computer; it can't be sold to other people because it can't really be tied to... you. It's not like they use it to figure out your Facebook/MySpace account, bank log-in, etc. It's essentially your computer requesting ads fro
  • and when this scheme fizzles out what then?

    how many legitimate clicks does Google register each hour, each day? are you really going to rise above the noise level?

    success btw implies that google could be brought down by anyone, at any time, for any reason.

    how they must be laughing in redmond right now!

     

  • force Google to adopt a pro-privacy corporate policy?

    google IS an advertising company! that's essentially their whole reason for existing. to sell eyeballs to advertisers.

    who's kidding who? google is in this for the love of mankind? get real.

    expect NO privacy when advertising is involved. doubleclick should be the obvious tip-off if there ever was one. anything that DC touches turns to shit, google included. just give it time - you'll find that google is engaging in 'slow cooking of the frog' (or lob

  • "Adbusters gives Google a perfect opportunity to sue for tortious interference with business operation [wikipedia.org]"

  • Automated clicking of all ads would be statistically detectable. Better just to stop using Google.

  • by whitefox (16740) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @07:31PM (#27175243)

    I don't need no GreaseMonkey script - I already click on all the ads visible :)

  • sounds like a relatively cheap way to have a site's ad revenue choked off,

    click-fraud it into banned-from-adwords hell.

  • by gobbo (567674) <wrewrite@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @07:59PM (#27175523) Journal

    I'm a cautious supporter of Adbusters, but I actually took google's ads out of my hosts file's filter list.

    My reasoning is that I believe, after years of studying media and communications, that advertising can only be ethical if it resembles the directory that you find in a phone book, accompanied by an honest, vetted description. Otherwise, it is rhetorically manipulative and preys on the uninformed.

    Now, while google's ads aren't perfect, they hew closer to this ideal than most other forms of advertising. The lack of emotionally manipulative visual imagery helps (I make a living messing with such imagery, BTW).

    I don't trust Google, the company. I am opposed to their excessive privacy abuse. However, I balance that against their general model, and find the competition worse.

    I won't support adbusters in this campaign, but I don't oppose it either.

  • the Google knows... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ssintercept (843305) <ssintercept@nOSpaM.gmail.com> on Thursday March 12, 2009 @09:37PM (#27176295) Journal
    as i am reading the comments, trying to think up something snarky...this pops into the old inbox:

    Hi, We're writing to let you know about the upcoming launch of interest-based advertising, which will require you to review and make any necessary changes to your site's privacy policies. You'll also see some new options on your Account Settings page. Interest-based advertising will allow advertisers to show ads based on a user's previous interactions with them, such as visits to advertiser website and also to reach users based on their interests (e.g. "sports enthusiast"). To develop interest categories, we will recognize the types of web pages users visit throughout the Google content network. As an example, if they visit a number of sports pages, we will add them to the "sports enthusiast" interest category. To learn more about your associated account settings, please visit the AdSense Help Center at http://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/topic.py?topic=20310 [google.com]. As a result of this announcement, your privacy policy will now need to reflect the use of interest-based advertising. Please review the information at https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=100557 [google.com] to ensure that your site's privacy policies are up-to-date, and make any necessary changes by April 8, 2009. Because publisher sites and laws vary across countries, we're unfortunately unable to suggest specific privacy policy language. For more information about interest-based advertising, you can also visit the Inside AdSense Blog at http://adsense.blogspot.com/2009/03/driving-monetization-with-ads-that.html [blogspot.com]. We appreciate your participation and look forward to this upcoming enhancement. Sincerely, The Google AdSense Team Email preferences: You have received this mandatory email service announcement to update you about important changes to your AdSense product or account. Google Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway Mountain View, CA 94043

    FEAR THE GOOGLE!
  • This could backfire (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Animats (122034) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @10:00PM (#27176457) Homepage

    Much as I like Adbusters, this is a headache.

    Right now, Google ad URLs are relatively straightforward to recognize and decode. If Google sees this as a real threat, they may start obfuscating them and using elaborate gimmickry with Javascript, like the stuff one sees in hostile web pages. Then they'll be much tougher to deal with. The easy approaches to ad blocking will stop working.

    We recognize Google ad URLs in AdRater [sitetruth.com], which is a Firefox plug-in, and we put a translucent rating icon atop each ad. Google ad links are currently rather straightforward to decode, so we don't have to follow them, just examine them. For some of Google's competitors, you can't tell where the ad link is going without clicking on it. We've considered a plug-in which follows encoded ad links in the browser, but it would look like click fraud, even though it has a legitimate purpose. So far, we've refrained from doing that. If Google tries obfuscating their ad URLs, we'll have to actually traverse them to find the advertiser site for rating purposes. That increases everyone's overhead.

  • by IHC Navistar (967161) on Friday March 13, 2009 @03:34AM (#27178107)

    I've heard many people claim a "moral wrong" in blocking ads. How they get to this, I really don't know.....

    Advertising, unless you explicitly ask for it, is unwanted. Advertisers are solicitors: They are asking for money in return for a service or product. Charities, although not offering a product or service, are still asking for money and are also solicitors.

    Consider this: You are sitting on a park bench reading SlashDot. Later, someone else comes over and sits next to you, and starts talking to you. You aren't interested in any products or services he's offering, and ask him to stop. He refuses. You again ask him to stop. He continues to refuse. You put on a pair of earplugs, the kind they use at shooting ranges, to block out the drivel you don't want to listen to. Is this wrong? Absolutely not. It may be a public place, but ignoring the stranger is legal, while harassing someone for a sale or panhandling, is not. However, one nations' laws cannot be enforced in another nation.

    AdBlocking is the Internet equivalent of earplugs. It is also the equivalent of saying "Leave me alone! I don't want to listen to you and I'm not going to buy anything from you!". You you shouldn't have to listen to an ENDLESS FLOOD of sales pitches, product offers, "Special 1-Day Deals", porn ads, and "You are the 1 Millionth Visitor!" that you don't want to.

    I have heard a seemingly endless number of arguments that claim AdBlocking is stealing. Stealing? Not at all. Stealing is when you take something from someone else and keep it as your own. By AdBlocking, you aren't taking anything from the site operator and keeping for yourself. You may be costing them clickstream revenue, but your are not stealing since you aren't getting anything in from it.

    Someone should cook up a script that sends the site operator a message that says "I don't want your stinking ads!" whenever it detects, and blocks, ads.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      There is no "moral wrong" in blocking ads. The problem is far more practical than that.

      The web sites you visit cost money to run. Perhaps you pay a subscription to some of the sites you visit. Those sites that you visit, but do not directly give money to, have to find a way to finance themselves.

      One such way is through advertising. Experience has proved to companies that exposing people to carefully designed propaganda can influence their spending habits, and thus these companies are willing to pay money to

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by illumin8 (148082)

      Consider this: You are sitting on a park bench reading SlashDot. Later, someone else comes over and sits next to you, and starts talking to you. You aren't interested in any products or services he's offering, and ask him to stop. He refuses. You again ask him to stop. He continues to refuse. You put on a pair of earplugs, the kind they use at shooting ranges, to block out the drivel you don't want to listen to. Is this wrong? Absolutely not. It may be a public place, but ignoring the stranger is legal, whi

  • by Herve5 (879674) on Friday March 13, 2009 @09:49AM (#27179941)

    What strikes me is what is obviously missing in Adbuster's paper. They say Google is bad, but don't even mention the possibility to switch to another search engine. There is none, no list could be provided.
    They must not hate Google in the end.

    OK, the impact of n Adbusters users leaving Google may be harder to track than staying and clicking everywhere. Yes. For those who 1) use Firefox + 2) have broadband access + 3) install the extension.
    I'd say, 50% of /. users will do this. And, 0.003% of the rest of the world.

    My advice: use Clusty. The only one that sometimes indeed is more efficient, thanks to clustering.
    http://clusty.com/ [clusty.com]

  • irony bomb (Score:3, Funny)

    by viridari (1138635) on Friday March 13, 2009 @11:36AM (#27181339)
    Check out the HTML source for the adbusters link. Oops! Google tracking bug!

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

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