Accused search hijacker denies all charges except covertly redirecting search

Search-marketer interecepts queries, fixes, them, adds advertisers, returns to sender

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Yesterday I happily glommed on to the analysis already done by friend-and-colleague Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols about the rampant and deceptive practice of search hijacking.

Specifically, it has become common among some ISPs of hijacking a customer's search request to Bing or Yahoo! Or Google and hand them off to a third-party search-advertising provider will return to the customer Search Results page heavy with advertisers and light with honest information.

The culprit in both his original piece and my derivative one was a company called Paxfire, whose slogan is Generating New Revenue for Network Operators.

Today I got an email from Paxfire that was incredibly disappointing.

Usually when a company is ticked off enough about something I write they try to either schmooze or bully their way to a retraction or some more favorable coverage.

Schmoozing involves PR people wanting to "correct the facts" by pointing out the story has no legitimacy due to "errors of fact" like misuse of the word "flood" in the sentence "...released a flood of chemicals so toxic their names alone could cause instant, painful death into a pond bordered by open-range puppy orphanages and fluffy-bunny feed yards."

"Since the unfortunate release from the Toxic Hill Nature Reserve and Noxious Chemical Facility was several nano-liters-per-second too small to be considered a "flood' under FEMA hurricane guidelines, we would like to request a retraction of the story and apology to the workers whose feelings were hurt by the unfavorable publicity."

Aggressive responses usually start with attempts to bully the publisher about "that hack job you did on us" even if the publisher isn't sure which publication the angry advertiser is talking about, let alone which particular story.

Each approach can add some excitement to the routine drudgery of a writer who gets his or her facts right, even if, as a class, we are guilty of all the moral flaws, social and religious heresies or sexual perversions of which an angry and profane CEO may accuse us. (The one exception is that perversion thing, which makes most of us sad at not having enough imagination to think of that thing with the chicken, for example, on our own. For CEOs, flying to business meetings all over the world, and Bangkok, is apparently more of an education than most other normal people could ever hope for.)

In any case, Paxfire didn't do either of those things.

Instead it sent the only form-letter I've ever gotten from a company complaining about how I covered it.

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