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The Dangers of Adware and the Downloads Folder

Originally posted on 16 June 2014.
Image: sample screenshot of my previous site. 

I have had the new site up for less than a week now. And people are already asking, “What happened to the old site? The new one looks so…different.”

 The old site still exists; it has been retired. My older site was not created with design clients in mind, but more for a broader spectrum of clients, many of them community-based. Not saying it wasn’t serious or professional: it was literally meant for those who were not as savvy at browsing the net or knew how to access forms, etc. A sample page screen shot from an older online portfolio is included for reference. (“Ooh! Look at the bright and colorful things!” was kinda what I was aiming for at the time.)

To give you an idea, while the new site beta testing was going on, I was approached by one of my testers. He told me that the “Writing/Blog” link kept taking him to a website that offered courses in writing. I told him this might be malware or adware on his browser that he has recently downloaded without realizing it. I told him how Mozilla is openly doing this when downloading their Firefox browser (getting it from Yahoo, BTW, helps alleviate this issue).

He didn’t believe me.

Last night, I received the following message:

“So of course you were right! That writing link issue was because of an ad program I had picked up. I got rid of it and now your link works correctly.”

Another beta tester said the following:

“Why do you have pornography links in your PowerPoint? I downloaded your presentation and I got sent to a porn site.”

I told him there was NO PORN on my sites whatsoever. After talking with him on the phone to find out what folder on his computer the file went to, he did a little investigating and sent me back the following message:

“Never mind. Those are my downloads it is tracking for me! I work on computers daily but some days I couldn’t tell you anything about them except how to turn them on and off!”

There are moments I wish I could make these things up just for the sake of telling a good story. But I can’t. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the real world.

I was incredibly happy to hear these revelations. Not because I wanted to be right, but because this leads me to the following: my sites, including my YouTube site, HAVE NO ADS and HAVE NO PORN LINKS. I am not going to dilute my brand by selling products for someone else when the products I need to sell are MY SERVICES. Any links or downloads contained on my site are trusted and provided by me alone. If in doubt, ask. Happy to guide you through the maze that is web surfing. And I really mean that.

Think about this when you are developing your projects, especially online. Those few pennies you get right now could cost you clients in the long run. Unless of course, you are Beyonce, and people want to watch that “Single Ladies” video regardless of when you can hit the “SKIP THIS AD IN FIVE SECONDS” button. And I would not blame you for that. The hand gesture alone is priceless.

 Love to you all.

 Ben Bear

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