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StumbleUpon "See Friend Reviews" on Google homepage?
Partnership? Malware? Random test? StumbleUpon toolbar?
Winooski




msg:3500943
 7:42 pm on Nov 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

I just did a quadruple take when I loaded up the Google homepage in Firefox and saw the StumbleUpon logo in the header. I wish I could upload a screenshot, but what I see when I look at the header is:

Web Images Video News Maps Gmail more See friend reviews

The StumbleUpon logo is to the left of the "See friend reviews", and when I mouseover it, I see the following tooltip:

Add StumbleUpon friends to see which search results they prefer

Clicking it takes me to [stumbleupon.com...] where the page reads:

[b]See Google results recommended by your friends...[/b][br][br]Import your contacts to see which search results they recommend. Once you've connected with friends, their name will appear next to pages they like.[br][br]Note: We won't save your username and password or spam your friends

I tried the same in IE, but no StumbleUpon stuff in the homepage there.

Now, I do have the StumbleUpon toolbar installed in Firefox, but I don't have it displayed. Could it be that it's inserting the code there? I can't believe that StumbleUpon would be so brazen as to do that. I also can't believe that, of all the partners slobbering to get their claws into Google's homepage, they'd only let StumbleUpon in there.

What gives? Anyone else ever come across this?

 

bwnbwn




msg:3500963
 8:09 pm on Nov 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

"I can't believe that StumbleUpon would be so brazen as to do that."

Believe it they are I don't see it. I don't have the stumble downloaded.

I stumble enough without it

Winooski




msg:3500971
 8:18 pm on Nov 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

...And now, of course, it's gone. Sigh.

I wasn't imagining it, I swear! I don't have any axe to grind with either StumbleUpon or Google (aside from the usual Big G SEO grumbles, ranking, etc.). The only other info I can offer is that the G URL was [google.com...]

I only brought this up in the first place because it seemed so unusual. If it were some party other than StumbleUpon, I'd be inclined to think I'd just witnessed the effect of spyware injecting a bit of HTML into my Google homepage download (think Gator). But as StumbleUpon isn't a name I ever associate with underhanded spyware marketing, I was really scratching my head over it.

Anyway, if anyone has any similar experiences, I'd love to hear. Otherwise, this'll just go on record as an anomaly.

icedowl




msg:3501130
 11:21 pm on Nov 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

I briefly had the StumbleUpon toolbar installed until one of my anti-spyware software packages gave a big red flag warning about it being bad. I dumped it immediately.

nervo




msg:3501181
 12:34 am on Nov 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

...And now, of course, it's gone. Sigh.

I am seeing it right now all over the place, in FF only.
So, whatever it is, it's not gone...

Robert Charlton




msg:3501635
 6:33 pm on Nov 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

Is this something that happens only when personalized search is turned on?

bunltd




msg:3501669
 7:20 pm on Nov 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm seeing it too, whether I'm logged in with a G account or not - in Firefox with the Stumbleupon toolbar enabled. It doesn't show up with when the toolbar is disabled. So apparently it's the Stumbleupon toolbar doing it - don't much care for that.

tedster




msg:3501732
 8:42 pm on Nov 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

SearchReviews are available to StumbleUpon users who have downloaded and installed the company's toolbar inside their Web browser... These ratings will begin running on nine of the Web's most popular Web sites on Tuesday, including any links friends have reviewed on search sites from Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL or Ask...

Technically speaking, StumbleUpon inserts the additional information in the underlying Web page code with no special effort from users.

Yahoo! News story [news.yahoo.com]

Here's another bit: "To identify their friends, StumbleUpon asks them to allow StumbleUpon to troll through their online address books such as Outlook or Yahoo or Microsoft or Yahoo e-mail to locate other StumbleUpon users. Privacy is assured, company officials said." No mention of gmail so far.

corvid




msg:3501775
 9:48 pm on Nov 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's still there, for me. I haven't been using StumbledUpon very long, but it was a little jarring seeing SU's logo on individual Wikipedia entries (co-located on the same line as the article title), etc. I'm not sure what I'm getting out of it (StumbledUpon), either as a user or web content provider, so I'll probably dump it soon.

whitenight




msg:3501791
 10:18 pm on Nov 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

Could someone explain what I'm missing here?

It's a feature page discussion...?
It's about Stumbleupon not Goog...?

Unless, you're inviting us to put on our tin-foil hats and start with google noise rants, I'm totally missing the import of this story. (for the Google forum)

Anyone kind enough to clarify before I start getting posts deleted? ;)

tedster




msg:3501810
 10:35 pm on Nov 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

You're right, this discussion is more about StumbeUpon than Google. However, many users have recently been surprised to see a change in their Google Home Page, not realizing that the change was created by the SU Toolbar with no collaboration form Google. SU made a very artful integration of the link!

So I felt it was helpful to publish and feature this thread to let people know why their Google home page seems to have changed.

whitenight




msg:3501813
 10:41 pm on Nov 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ok. Well since there's been no clarification, I will talk about EBAY since it's an Ebay subsidiary (and a pox if this gets deleted)

I'll make the rather foolhardy jump in deduction that the connection between an EBAY app and Google is such --

If Ebay wanted to seriously grow their business, developing some sort of "Shopping Only" Search Engine to compete with Goog (see Ebay - Google incident of this year) and take away alot of their adwords profits and traffic, THEN...

Using the information gathered from the Stumbleupon toolbar laid over the other SEs would be a good way to do it.

In reality, Ebay is one of the few companies with the available funds and real business competitiveness to actually build and develop a rival search portal that could easily compete with Google head to head (assuming alot here)

------------
Editor's note - started writing post before Tedster's reply :)

Rosalind




msg:3501835
 11:24 pm on Nov 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm definitely seeing it, in Google.com but not google.co.uk Aren't StumbleUpon in a sense a competitor of Google's? I mean, this strikes me as underhand.

If SU gets away with this, it's carte blanche for us all to go out and build toolbars that add our links and branding to the homepages of our competitors.

tedster




msg:3501843
 11:37 pm on Nov 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's more like what various FireFox and IE add-ons do with a Google results page. I doubt that there's any legal ground to contest things that happen on an individual user's computer when that user has given permission. So the key factor is how many folks you can get to opt-in to your branded toolbar.

Winooski




msg:3502039
 10:44 am on Nov 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wow, I'm floored that other people have confirmed the appearance of StumbleUpon links and logos on their Google homepage.

It's more like what various FireFox and IE add-ons do with a Google results page.

Tedster, so there are other plugins that alter the appearance of Google results, without Google's consent, with impunity? I've totally missed this fact. Any examples?

I'm finding it hard to believe that Google would allow its pages to be significantly altered without contesting it in court (emphasis on the "significantly", i.e., done in a way that makes it look as though the injected content or design element originated with Google itself instead of with the third party that's injecting it into the user's browser).

Here's why I say this:

1. The Federal Trade Commission has a slew of suits against would-be spyware companies [cdt.org].

2. One of the "behaviors deemed unfair and/or deceptive by the FTC" in at least one of these suits is "Installing software onto users' computers that makes substantial modifications to the Internet Explorer Web browser (including the home page and default search engine) without users' knowledge or authorization." (both quotes from the page from the Center for Democracy & Technology linked-to above.)

3. In two of these cases, the FTC apparently has successfully levied fines and gotten the third parties to halt the unfair or deceptive behavior.
- In Federal Trade Commission v. Odysseus Marketing, Inc., and Walter Rines [ftc.gov]: "The FTC charged that the defendants' spyware intercepted and replaced search results provided to users who queried popular Internet search engines."
- In Federal Trade Commission v. Seismic Entertainment Productions, Inc., SmartBot.net, Inc., and Sanford Wallace [ftc.gov]: "the FTC alleged that both operations hijacked consumers' computers without the consumers' knowledge or approval."

4. I've just reviewed StumbleUpon's current terms of service [stumbleupon.com] and privacy policy [stumbleupon.com], and, from what I can determine, there doesn't appear to be any verbiage to the effect that they might change a search engine's homepage to include their logo and a link to them.

I know that it's one thing for the FTC to take on spyware vendors and another for a private web site owner to sue a software vendor for editing its pages on the fly, but still, I think there's enough precedent from the above that, were I Google, I'd be calling out my lawyers immediately.

ripthesystem




msg:3502137
 3:00 pm on Nov 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Winooski,

Yes there are other plug-ins for FF that will alter your Google results. I don't really think that is an issue since you are actually altering them locally on your own machine and of your own volition. However the major difference between these others that you would install and StumbleUpon is that the purpose of these other plugins is to alter your results WITH your permission. SU is obviously injecting itself now on the sly..

justageek




msg:3502154
 3:38 pm on Nov 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

Tedster, so there are other plugins that alter the appearance of Google results, without Google's consent, with impunity? I've totally missed this fact. Any examples?

There are many I'm sure. I use one that at first I thought was some kind of scumware and mentioned in other threads here but turns out it is actually very useful.

It changes the links on AdWords to point to the real URL of the advertiser instead of being redirected through Google. This allows me to click/check links without an advertiser being charged. Very useful for checking and nobody gets charged for my clicks so I can click on AdWords/AdSense ads all day long.

But it's my choice to run it so even though Google may not be happy that they don't make money off my clicks I don't see how they can really stop it either. Same goes with SU.

JAG

jtara




msg:3502164
 4:00 pm on Nov 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I use Adblock Plus, and it defiantly alters Google results pages - significantly.

It removes the increasingly-irrelevant ads.

Good riddance!

Rosalind




msg:3502635
 11:08 am on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

so there are other plugins that alter the appearance of Google results, without Google's consent, with impunity? I've totally missed this fact. Any examples?

McAfee SiteAdvisor alters the appearance of major search engines.

wtkad




msg:3502708
 1:36 pm on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I use StumbleUpon on my home computer as a time waster (I don't have it here at work). When the toolbar is updated, it takes you to the Changelog and this addition was mentioned.

Versions 3.15

* Enables SearchReviews opt-in and configuration options for all users. See:
toolbar -> Tools -> Toolbar Options -> Configuration tab -> Web Search

I turned it off when I read that and didn't think about it again. I'm not sure if that counts as being done "on the sly" - just a feature push that can easily be removed.

Bewenched




msg:3502940
 5:58 pm on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I saw that too last week. It is interesting to see which sites/results are listed in stumbled upon.

Winooski




msg:3503182
 10:18 pm on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks to one and all. I'm definitely getting an education in apps and toolbars that regularly alter the search results. It sounds as though it's a very common occurrence, and Google isn't suing any of these results-alteration-makers AFAIK.

I'd be interested to know if anybody's seeing the StumbleUpon logo on the Google homepage itself as I described in the original post. If not, then it was just a bit of temporary weirdness, nothing more.

Postscript: It turns out that at least one other person has documented what I saw, Sphinn user nsmseo. Here's nsmseo's screenshot: [img115.imageshack.us...] .

So have you seen this, too?

[edited by: Winooski at 10:23 pm (utc) on Nov. 12, 2007]

ripthesystem




msg:3503206
 10:47 pm on Nov 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

YES! I am showing the exact same thing. I had a screenshot up in this post but it was removed 'cause it wasn't on a public image host. However, I can easily reproduce this behavior.

I have also, as suggested a couple posts above, gone in and made sure these settings are UNchecked. However the behavior continues. If you check the settings to show it alters your results even more. That's fine if you want it, however so far this is showing as a "feature" I can't turn off.

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