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Download.com is just the beginning of this crap. At least a lot of people now realise that download.com is shady. Google is just as bad as download.com, but people still think of Google as a reputable site. Even in this discussion people are recommending just googling the product name to find a download. Please don't tell people to do that. It's dangerous.

If you type terms like 'firefox' into google search much of the time the top result (which is actually an ad) takes you to a site offering a version of firefox bundled with toolbars and god knows what other malware. The story is similar for other popular windows downloads. I've even seen these ads crop up for things like Chrome in the past.

For example, here is a search I did just now for the term 'download firefox'. The top result is an ad leading to malware: http://i.imgur.com/Ote9c2k.png

Imagine having to explain to an inexperienced computer user how find to firefox or other common software, without clicking on any of these landmines google carefully disguises right at the top of the results.

I've been bringing this up on HN for a while now and nothing has changed. Many of the sites are the same as they were a year ago. Google does manual review of adwords sites. The domains of these sites have been the same for at least a year. Google knows exactly what is going on, making them just as bad as donwload.com in my view.

Google search ads are probably one of the biggest vectors for malware these days, along side the kinds of big download button ads you see on software sites (many of which are also google ads).





This is the exact reason why the first thing I do for a friends computer is installing adblock on chrome.

As an aside, I wonder how prevalent the adware would be when searching for "download chrome"?

This. For all that people handwring about "Won't somebody please think of our ad revenue!", I consider installing some kind of adblocker more or less a standard safety measure for the web. A huge volume of browser-vectored malware comes from bad ad clicks, and even I've made a mistake or two in the past clicking on bogus download buttons and the like.

┬ÁBlock is especially good for this as some of the lists have additional rules specifically targeting malware sources, and it can block things like actual script tags and such instead of just hosts.

And it's not like people with ad blockers would lead to ROI, anyway.

people defending ad blockers tend to say this, but that's not true. As much effort in advertisement is about validating your product as it is about selling it. No one buys a BMW from an online ad, but yet here it is! http://i.imgur.com/QCDc2gl.png

Well it's not there to sell cars so much as it is to say to the public "BMW are valid cars"

So just having the advertisement get seen is what's important to them. At least that's my understanding. Evaluate the argument for yourself: http://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/14y695/el...

It's also another reason I filter ad's. I'm afraid they will manipulate the way I think.

At least the actual, genuine result is visible without scrolling. A few years Google were paying computer manufacturers to set a special version of Google with more prominent ads as their default search engine. The net result was that if you got a new computer and searched for Firefox using their default, Google-supplied search the genuine result was actually below the fold in some cases.

Can you back that up with a citation?

Not trivially, unfortunately - I didn't save the information at the time and don't seem to be able to find details because it's buried under articles about Google's newer changes to increase the number of ads and the (equally ad-heavy) redirection page for URL typos they were paying OEMs to bundle at one point.[1] Basically, there's too much discussion of other bad practices for me to Bing or Google this one. Sorry.

[1] See http://blog.opendns.com/2007/05/22/google-turns-the-page/

Interesting. Do you have any more information about that scheme?

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