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Testing... 1, 2, 3... (Formerly: I OBJECT!)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Okay, generally I am a loyal supporter of all SparkPeople does to keep this site FREE and accessible to everyone. I figure, overall, that the greater good over-rides the annoyances... you get out of anything what you make of it.

To start with, I've disabled pop-ups on my computer.

I ignore the ads that show up on every page (even the ones I find offensive: "no strings attached relationship - join FREE").

I ignore the fact that SparkPeople definitely employs spyware to track of my search history and general internet activity so they can skew the ads I see to my interests (that's WHY I am currently inundated with offensive adds for illicit relationships... I inadvertently clicked on an entertainment news site picture ad and got bounced to one such location).

I ignore the ads which tout products that clearly contradict Spark recommendations of healthy eating, (weight loss supplements, anyone?).

However, when SparkPeople begins embedding ads into the text of my blog content, they have gone too far, in my opinion.

I resent my text being used to promote goods and services with which I have no interest, or affiliation. It makes me feel used and manipulated... not mention it distracts from my own effort, and from the deliberate and relevant links I've added to my own content.

I joined SparkPeople for the community and companionship that sharing this weight loss journey provides. SparkPeople was my start point with respect to motivation and losing weight. Next I learned to work toward my goals, learned to eat for health, plan, and develop a lifestyle that supported my well-being. As I've mastered the dynamics of weight loss (it's not just calories in, calories out equation), I am also able to plan ahead by learning all I can about weight maintenance... and my work here becomes even more fruitful.

I come to SparkPeople for a respite from my 3D life and the details that distract me from my goals and dreams. If I want to be assaulted with advertising at literally every word, I know where to go, and I do not need SparkPeople to direct me to products and services in which I am completely uninterested... things like a hip replacement, power washing, preparing for financial disaster, health insurance, or even something as simple as a coffee maker (though I do need a new one... but an ad on SparkPeople WILL NOT influence my purchase one way or the other).

I do not see how any of SparkPeople's sponsors could be facing financial disaster to the point where we need to be assaulted in this way.

In case you are wondering (or if you think it took a lot of work to collect all of these words and work them into one blog post), I simply read FOUR blogs to which I subscribe... blogs where people made themselves vulnerable by sharing some of the more painful details about their life and family... and Spark chose to use that act of trust and faith in this community to further their own agenda.

I strongly suggest that SparkPeople rethinks this current strategy; and I even more strongly request that this practice of embedding advertising, based on search words, is discontinued. THIS is not the spark I was looking for!!!

Are you with me?

EDITED PROMPTLY after clicking the 'post blog entry' button:

Okay, so I guess I don't understand exactly how this mechanism works from Spark's end, because I've included in the above piece words from only FOUR blogs (21 WORDS) that showed as embedded ads:

• make
• next
• work (used in one blog 4 times, and EACH TIME it linked to a DIFFERENT ad)
• family
• free
• coffee maker
• health insurance
• financial disaster
• hip replacement
• Spark
• start
• to start
• eat for health
• healthy eating
• plan
• weight maintenance
• weight loss
• losing weight
• power washing (REALLY?!?)
• request
• calories

...obviously they all didn't become embedded ads in this blog post, though I still find this practice egregious (and my post has added 'weight loss supplements' to the list).

...I'm now wondering if whatever words become embedded as ads is linked to THE VIEWER'S internet activity (that spyware, again)... though none of the words I've included here have anything to do with my own activities. "?"

In this post the words/phrases made clickable ad links are:
• weight loss supplements
• power washing
• weight maintenance

Here's a link I've deliberately placed:
When you say, "YES!"

So, what do you see when you read this post?

(Perhaps the problem is with my computer... I'm now wondering if I haven't had a malware encounter....)

(I'd really like to understand this... if you can shed some light on it, I'd be grateful.)

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • ERIN1957
    I use to have this issue until I started closing cookies out after every use and as well stop and cleaned out my files during my daily use of my computer.
    It at one time became so terrible that I contacted SP to find out it was mostly me and what I wasn't doing.
    They do provide us an out using our own spyware.
    I hope the issue stops as I absolutely love reading your blogs, they really provide me with inspiration and motivation.
    My best to you that this issue final stops, I am so sorry you are having to deal with this.
    1658 days ago
  • LARRI2010
    I use Adblock Plus on Firefox browser. It doesn't eat all ads, but it does get some of the most annoying, such as the ones you are talking about. I DO see SparkPeople ads on this site, and I will sometimes click on them to see if it's something I want to buy.
    1658 days ago
    Hmm, will keep an eye out
    1660 days ago
    Hi, everyone... thanks again for your support. By the time I posted this post I'd pretty much figured out that it was 'just me' and that the malware in question is Doctovirus. They infect your computer (troll your internet habits, warn you of dire infections from other viruses - a lie, BTW, and generally just make using your computer miserable) and then they try to sell you their 'for profit' version to clean up the mess.

    Fortunately for me, my Mr. is an IT guy, and I've already done some of my own research. I'm going to use this opportunity to learn how to clean up a mess such as this for myself.

    In the meantime, I am being very careful about where I go, and what information I access/reveal... for instance, I keep getting a pop-up that tells me as a Spark 'visitor' I have been selected to win $50,000 if I simply answer a short survey (all the questions of which pertain to personal details of my life). REALLY!?! I WILL NOT be answering that one, LOL!

    Anyway, I thank you all for the sympathy.. makes me feel less 'alone'... though I'm sorry others have ahad this issue. This is the newest computer plague.. released June. What makes me most upset is that I am REALLY careful and reasonablely computer saavvy in my own right. This is all the result of one accidental click on a booby trapped picture ad.

    I may be around a little less 'til I get this solved. SIGH.

    Love you ALL!
    1661 days ago
    I've experienced the same thing -- on two computers (my home computer and my work computer). Anything I search at work shows up on my Spark account. Because of client requirements, we have high security, virus/malware protection, etc. IT has found nothing on that computer (actually my computer was the cleanest at work!!!). Most annoying.
    1661 days ago
    I'am sorry RAMONA. I think that your computer has a virus. The last time that it happened to me, about more than 2 years ago, I had to back up every single file I had. I called a technician to come and clean my computer. He reformatted my disc C. and checked my backups for viruses. Then he uploaded again all my software. It was a pain.
    My son told me that when I get an ad pops out saying that my computer is at risk, to close everything and log off immediately. To not accept any solution to solve the risk. I don't know if that is useful, but I haven't had any virus lately.
    And I'm not sure about Malware. After I accepted their "Free Help" my computer deteriorated faster.
    1661 days ago

    Comment edited on: 8/31/2013 1:50:06 AM
  • UNICORN212
    Adaware and malware bytes are good programs to have on hand - and I think they are both free.
    1661 days ago
    Hi Ramona. Having read your blog, and the subsequent comments, I can attest to the fact that you have caught a nasty malware.

    I actually posted a question in the general message boards about this very topic last week (the week before?). One of the sparkcoaches very kindly mentioned that it was not sparks at all, but malware.

    My dh got a free trial of malware protection (or some such). It took about a week, but no more annoying blue words that link randomly to annoying sites! Yippee!

    I hope you are able to get rid of it as well.

    1661 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    I've been seeing more and more ads in disconcerting places in SP. I share your concerns! But, as usual, you have articulated it marvelously!
    1661 days ago
    Yeahhh this is nothing to do with Spark. It's something else on your computer, that is causing keywords in your browser to turn into links (for you - it's what YOU are seeing when you view your blog, others viewing your blog cannot see these links).

    Here's a site that gives a basic explanation and a couple of links to sites that have information on how to disable/remove:


    Also, it isn't SPARK that is crawling your browser history to feed you with "contextual" ads. It's the advertising service. Granted, Spark is allowing an advertising service to do this, so sure, they are in some degree "responsible" in the overall sense. But I cut them some slack there... if they're going to make any revenue by selling ad space, they kind of HAVE to play along with the ad-delivery companies. They can ask the ad-server not to run specific ads, so if you see one that is particularly offensive or contrary to Spark's mission, you could try reporting it.

    Hope this gives you a little peace of mind!
    1661 days ago
    hmm being mostly computer illiterate I haven't a clue what you are taking about, but haven't seen adds in anyones blogs... hope you can figure it out.
    1661 days ago
    I don't see any links your blog and I haven't had any I mine so far. I hope you figure out the problem.
    1661 days ago
    Thanks, so much, ladies and...

    STINK!!! This makes my life more difficult, LOL!

    SIGH. Upon reflection (and applying my brain, rather than my mouth) I can almost bet I know what started it all, and when.

    My outrage remians, but it's now directed elsewhere other than SparkPeople (though it was rather a fun writing exercise working all of those random words and phrases into a cohesive post).

    Well, I guess I'd better get busy cleaning up my computer... any thoughts on how to do THAT efficiently with the least amount of upheaval?

    Anyone? Anyone?
    1661 days ago
    I do not see any clickable links in your blog, other than the one you put in to your 1/20/10 blog. So perhaps it is malware you "caught".

    I haven't seen embedded ads in anyone's blogs, actually. When I am using the computer I have several ad & pop-up blockers installed which helps quite a bit, but my iPad does not have that benefit. But since I don't see them in your blog when I am using my iPad I suspect it is something on the other end.
    1661 days ago
    I think you need to consider that you've had a malware encounter, as I've never had a word in anyone's blog turn in to a link. The only links in this blog are the one's you chose to add for SparkGuy and SparkStaff pages.

    It sounds positively frustrating, so I hope you find the cause.
    1662 days ago
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