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AdultFriendFinder.com and the FTC

News of yet another settlement between a government agency related to adware. This time it’s AdultFriendFinder and the FTC. Maybe I need to start tagging these as “chickens coming home to roost.” AdultFriendFinder and the FTC have reached a settlement over consumers being “pelted” with sexually explicit ads. The short story is the FTC says AdultFriendFinder delivered sexually explicit ads to it’s network of sites to consumers who weren’t looking for such and that’s against the federal law. AdultFriendFinder can’t do that anymore, either themselves or by their AdultFriendFinder affiliates. From the FTC press release:

“Such ads were displayed to consumers who were searching online using terms such as flowers, travel, and vacations. In some cases, defendant’s sexually explicit ads were distributed using spyware and adware.”

Oh my…AdultFriendFinder was advertising through adware and spyware??? Yes, extensively. Those in the adult industry or even those who just promote mainstream dating, may have caught wind of the AdultFriendFinder/Zango fiasco last year. Some adult AdultFriendFinder affiliates all of sudden realized about Zango and commission diversions. Some of them installed Zango and started seeing AdultFriendFinder pop-ups with AdultFriendFinder affiliate IDs in the links. It got posted on the GFY forums (a high traffic adult forum) and quickly spread to other adult forums. AdultFriendFinder affiliates were very outspoken about Zango and the AdultFriendFinder pop-ups (at the time AdultFriendFinder was paying out around $130/sign-up). I’m not sure where some adult industry AdultFriendFinder affiliates had been for Zango to be news for them but regardless…. It was the usual heated “discussions” about commission theft from adware with a mix of the usual misunderstanding of what actually happens. AdultFriendFinder was questioned about the problem repeatedly and gave the usual song and dance.

Then the real fun started when some adult industry AdultFriendFinder affiliates decided to start a movement against Zango. Next thing you know, Zango has sent out a mass letter to many of their own affiliates in the adult industry who promote Zango for installation. It seems that many AdultFriendFinder affiliates were under the assumption that Zango was the AdultFriendFinder affiliate partner with AdultFriendFinder and responsible for the pop-ups. Zango decided to set that record straight in the email explaining it wasn’t THEM overwriting AdultFriendFinder affiliate links, but it was AdultFriendFinder themselves just using AdultFriendFinder affiliate links. 😀

Yes, I laughed rather hysterically over that one. Of course, Zango wasn’t the only adware applicatlion AdultFriendFinder was using as I’d seen those ads for quite a long time through many adware applications. AdultFriendFinder finally came out and stated that they were running the ads as protection to keep competitors from popping on AdultFriendFinder sites. Like they were doing AdultFriendFinder affiliates some type of favor and of course they certainly didn’t have to use an AdultFriendFinder id in the links. And there was the reality check problem that AdultFriendFinder sites weren’t the only places those ads were being displayed. If you want the nitty gritty play-by-play action on this one, then just do a Google search for “AdultFriendFinder Zango” with adult content filter off. It is rather amusing at times, except AdultFriendFinder affiliates were getting shafted. A “mainstream” response to AdultFriendFinder practices happened when Rosiland Gardner found them popping on her site. And her continued posts here, here, and here. Nope, Rosiland didn’t seem impressed.

Well the FTC has now said AdultFriendFinder can’t being doing those adware pop-ups, at least when consumers aren’t expressly looking for adult content. It will be interesting to see if AdultFriendFinder drops adware use altogether or just curtails the use. If they continue to utilize adware, they’ll need to have a high level of confidence the adware company is delivering the ads under the FTC Settlement Guidelines. It’s actually good to see that AdultFriendFinder caught some FTC love over this one. I’ve seen many of their pop-ups and it’s not content children should be exposed to. Or even adults who don’t want to see such for that matter. They had no business having those ads displayed for such general search terms.

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