Spyware Sucks
“There is no magic fairy dust protecting Macs" – Dai Zovi, author of “The Mac Hacker’s Handbook"

Me.dium – widget disabled – sorry gang

December 18th 2007 in Uncategorized

Hi all,

You may have noticed that my Me.dium widgets (both here and on ie-vista) are blank.

I received an email late on Sunday night warning me that the Me.dium widget at www.ie-vista.com had offered to a visitor to my site the URL for the orientalorgy domain.  The content offered by the URL was pretty hard core pornography, and completely unacceptable to me, and to Me.dium. I have personal experience of them deleting Me.dium user accounts on the basis of inappropriate chat content, and know that they’re pretty hard line about such things.

Me.dium (who were immediately informed of the incident, and are as upset as I am about what happened) have advised me with regret that in their opinion the best recourse for me, taking into consideration my zero tolerance for such incidents, is to disable the widgets on both my sites until either the filters are improved to cope with non-English content (this work is in progress), or the ability to create user created neighbourhoods can be made available, and this is what they have done for me.

Me.dium has always taken steps to filter pornographic sites using a filter that utilises content from various third party services, but it turns out that the filters being used are not as effective against non-English pornographic sites.  For reasons that I don’t quite understand yet, for the past few days the Me.dium widget at www.ie-vista.com has been offering nearly 100% Asian language content on the map, and this is how the pornographic URL snuck in.  According to the statistics that I have access to, Asian language visitors make up a very small minority of visitors to www.ie-vista.

It stands to reason that if a particular language group is more heavily represented than another language group, then the preferred content of the language group with the higher number of users will naturally be seen as more popular – Me.dium, after all, works on popularity as it pertains to the number of Me.dium users visiting a particular site.  If that popularity is not adjusted to take into consideration the ratio of Language Group 1 to Language Group 2, then we may see effects such as the one we saw at www.ie-vista.com (non English content being offered on an English language site) and other skewed results.

We’re all learning as Me.dium changes and grows.  This incident has reminded me of the risk that I assume when I allow unmoderated content (such as the Me.dium widget) to be a part of my sites, and Me.dium have discovered a deficiency in their content filtering.  I just wish that the incident, and its fall-out, were a little less embarrassing [:(]

We’ll revisit Me.dium once the filters are improved, or the user created neighbourhoods are available.


Comments are closed.

You use Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 to browse to a Web page. However, Internet Explorer 6 may crash under certain circumstances, such as when you open and close a modal dialog box several times.

Previous Entry

Good morning everybody.
Thing have been quiet on this blog with regards to malicious Flash advertisements, but that doesn’t mean that nothing has been happening – on the contrary – there has been a lot going on behind the scenes.
Good news is that the malicious SWF implicated in the soccernet outbreak (content owned by adtech.de and distributed […]

Next Entry