AOLers, say hello to Big Brother. Your privacy on the Web is over with. In stunning news this week after a backlash against AOL’s data leak of nearly a million user’s search records, AOL has acquired Tacoda, which uses technology to monitor client’s customers so you can see lots of “personalized” ads.
So how does Tacoda work? The way most adware and spyware programs do. They monitor every website you visit, whether it’s an AOL property or not. The information is collected and analyzed to see which sites you visit the most. Advertising is delivered based on the results. Say you visit a lot of websites about flowers; you’ll see lots of gardening ads. Every possible “interest” of yours is analyzed so you’ll see ads that lead you to buy from as many of AOL’s ad partners as possible.
A funny thing just happened. I was checking my PC’s Device Manager to see if dialup was installed, and I came across a new tutorial for Anti-AOL: How to find and uninstall the AOL WAN Miniport.
The software that installed it, AOL 9.0 VR, has been off my computer for months. All versions of AOL install the WAN Miniport Adapter, so here I’ll show you how to find and get rid of it so you won’t get a nasty surprise like I did.
I have a tutorial to write and an older post to rework and republish this week, and I’d like to do a rip, I mean, a review of myAOL and Mgnet, but I’ll touch quickly on what’s going on this week with AOL…wow, not much isn’t.
First off, if you haven’t heard about AOL’s class-action settlement with 47 states by now (or 48, if you count the one state that didn’t participate but is covered, and if you conveniently forget the District of Columbia altogether, which is also covered) you probably don’t have a pulse.
As I wrote in Does AOL print its own money?, AOL has spent years paying for dozens of fraudulent escapades involving falsified advertising revenue and non-existent deals dreamed up between them and dozens of smaller Internet companies during their heyday and sequential dot-bust.
While a running tally I’ve kept on fraud settlements has them paying over $3,995,000,000 to date, you can now tack on an additional $2.8 billion they must cough up to cover themselves and avoid going to trial. As I pointed out in my other post, AOL depleted the “reserve” account that pays these settlements back in March, when they ran into the red in order to cover a $144 million settlement reached with The Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation and five of their state pension funds:
In news that’s just the old being made new again, AOL settled complaints with 48 states yesterday, according to Reuters.
“The resolution announced Wednesday was driven by a deluge of complaints from AOL customers who said they tried to close their accounts, only to be thwarted in their attempts or discover they were still being billed for services that they thought had been canceled.
The outcry triggered a multi-state investigation that would have culminated in a lawsuit if AOL hadn’t agreed to ante up and change its ways, said David Tiede, a deputy attorney general in California.
California was among the states that played a leading role in the settlement. New York and Florida were the only states that didn’t participate in the inquiry.“
I’ve had it with AOL’s software. Before anyone at AOL gets too warm and fuzzy that I noted recent improvements to how the software uninstalls, keep in mind I only download and install AOL to test it for people who want to get rid of it. That’s a lot of people: my most enduring tutorial for removing AOL has seen roughly 10,000 unique visits. For comparison, the site’s had over
100,000 (should’ve checked my stats first!) 136,000 uniques, but at least 60,000 of those were from Digg, so you can do the math yourself and see one sixth of regular (non-Digg) visits are to a page on how to uninstall AOL.
Running this site for as long as I have (your humble ambassador to a world beyond AOL since December, 2005™ ), you’d think that I’ve heard of every anti-AOL site out there.
Sunbelt, the people who make CounterSpy and other software security products, reported on their blog yesterday that at least 450 free AOL sites are infected with the Trojan-Downloader.Zlob.Media-Codec, more commonly known as the zlob-fake-codec.
How this works is you click a search engine result that takes you to an infected AOL account (user.aol.com is shown in the screen shot of an infected result page on Sunbelt’s blog), then you’re prompted to download an ActiveX component to view the web page. If you click Continue to download it, your computer is infected with up to two hundred trojans and unsafe ActiveX components.
Software: AOL Email.
Replacement: POP Peeper.
Difficulty Level: Easy
For people who’ve never had any ISP (Internet Service Provider) except AOL, “How will I survive without them?” is a good question. POP Peeper can download your AOL email to your Desktop so you don’t have to sign into AOL for it. You can read and write messages directly from it. If you’re planning on canceling AOL and want to try this out, you should sign up with a new Internet service provider and install POP Peeper before you call AOL to cancel your account.
Send and receive AOL email from your free POP Peeper email client instead of logging into AOL.com or using AOL’s software. It’s no harder than typing in your AOL screen name, password, the name of AOL’s email server, and asking for SMTP Authentication just one time. Set it and forget it. On a scale of 1-10, this is just plain easy. Download POP Peeper here, then follow the steps below, which show you how I set up my AOL email address to work with POP Peeper.