It's a sad day when you can't trust a porn site

Scam creates junk web pages on pornmongers' computers to build fake traffic

Nothing ruins a spirited ramble through a porn site like the realization that you may be an unwitting accomplice to an online advertising scam targeting large marketers and Internet companies. (Also see: Finally, a valid reason to use 'porn' in a headline) Or so I can imagine. But apparently that's exactly what's happening to some people who aren't me who visit many of the Internet's 10,326 porn sites of which I actually knew nothing about until right now. The Wall Street Journal reports: In a new type of online-advertising fraud, these porn sites are trying to generate revenue by setting up junk pages and faking Web traffic. The porn sites include names such as hqtubevideos.com and pornoxo.com. It's unclear who owns the sites or how many visitors they have. When a user visits one of these porn sites, the Web page launches dozens of pages that are hidden from the computer user. These hidden sites are filled with paid links to legitimate websites. Unbeknownst to the user, software built into the porn sites forces the user's computer to click on these links, sometimes hundreds of times, sending a flood of computer-generated traffic to legitimate websites. Note that no actual person clicks on or even looks at the ads in question. Nonetheless, the scammers get paid for driving traffic to legitimate sites, and companies with advertisements on those sites end up paying for phony page views and clickthroughs. It's hard to tell how widespread the scam is, but online-ad security firm AdSafe reportedly "found more than one thousand websites with possible links to the scam," the WSJ wrote: In some instances (AdSafe) found more than 5,000 "invisible ads" being shown to an individual consumer after one visit to a porn site. It's all so exploitative and degrading. I feel used. That is, I would feel used, were I a habitué of the Internet's porn emporiums. Which I am not.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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