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From The Motley Fool:

That innocuous-looking "From Around the Web" is an ad unit meant to look like editorial content.

The company behind that ad unit is HowLifeWorks, which eschews traditional display advertising in favor of "advertorials" -- ads that masquerade as legitimate article content.

The first advertorial above, "Small Investors Are Making Huge Returns Trading Penny Stocks," is an effective advertisement for a penny stock operation called Once you click from the advertorial to, the site aggressively pushes you to sign up for its alerts newsletter.

The ploy, then:
Buy nontraditional advertising (advertorials) on legitimate websites like
Get readers to click from a article to what seems like another article but is actually a hardly veiled advertisement.
Use the faux editorial to push folks from the advertorial site to

Ok, I know the last thing any of us need right now is another scandal.  Given the content of those from around the web boxes, I always suspected they were advertisements from HuffPo because, well, a lot of those ads remind me of their feature content.  On the bright side it isn't just us and Forbes:
Blogs and bribes
On April 2, just as the hype game was getting going, a Motley Fool blogger was asked privately about writing a blog post on Goff.

A person calling himself "John O'Connell," purportedly representing "Investor Associates, LLC," contacted the blogger via LinkedIn. O'Connell offered "four-figure" compensation to write a positive article about the company -- and when our blogger declined the offer, O'Connell even offered to write it for him, if the blogger would simply post under his own byline.

The blogger still declined, and immediately thereafter brought it to our attention. When I spoke with O'Connell by phone, he told me he had only reached out to two people, neither one taking him up on the offer. He ceased such blogger outreach once realizing it was against Fool rules, he said.

And yet, in a stroke of incredible good fortune and unbelievable coincidence for the stock promoters, somehow blogs got written -- glowing blogs, each writing optimistically about a company that, to recap, (1) has never made a single cent and (2) went through a wholesale management and business-model change less than 90 days prior.

Over on SeekingAlpha, another open blog platform, four positive posts were written during the stock's rapid ascent -- and those four were syndicated to major financial portals like Yahoo! Finance.
I have to wonder if Penny Stocks are not just the tip of the iceberg.  Sure seems like their have been a lot of blogs on financial websites pushing questionable investments in gold on people who really should not be speculating in commodities.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-) From Dictatorship to Democracy, Guide to Non Violent Protests.

    by sdelear on Wed May 15, 2013 at 07:24:40 PM PDT

  •  Even though I thought I donated to DK, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twigg, DeadHead

    I still get those things. I don't mind, I've never clicked on one. Penny stocks are silly, don't even think about it. Google never sold for a penny, I don't think any big company ever did.

    We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.

    by PowWowPollock on Wed May 15, 2013 at 07:34:09 PM PDT

  •  Any one who invests via a "message board" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nuclear winter solstice

    is a  born sucker.

    "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Thomas Paine

    by shrike on Wed May 15, 2013 at 07:36:43 PM PDT

  •  Just so we are clear. (10+ / 0-)

    Daily Kos had little to no control over the ads placed on the site.

    DK is paid for the space, by pages displayed and click throughs, etc.

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    Who is twigg?

    by twigg on Wed May 15, 2013 at 07:37:15 PM PDT

    •  i agree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      But many sites do mingle advertiser and editorial content.  In many cases, there is no evidence that an advertisement is an advertisement, although all it would take is a little mark "advertisement"  even barely legitimate magazines and new papers mark paid content as advertisement.  NPR is now airing content largely paid for by private firms, and when they do they say that it is paid for by private firms.  This gives the consumer the ability to evaluate the content.

      So there is a traditional solution.  Mark ads as advertisement, and if any compensation has been given, state it up front.  If you were given a Surface tablet in exchange for review, just say you given the tablet.  If you are being paid by a third party, admit it.  If you have shorted the stocks you are tying to slam, say so.  Of course most of this can't be done because it would destroy the value of ad.  So we say it is not something that can be fixed, and move on.

  •  Who buys anything they don't absolutely have to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    from any American business?

    "The war on drugs followed by the war on terror has eliminated protections we have had since the Magna Carta." -Horace Boothroyd III

    by mookins on Wed May 15, 2013 at 07:51:58 PM PDT

  •  I invest primarily in penny stocks (14+ / 0-)

    Mind you, they are not penny stocks at the time I buy them.

    "Please proceed, Governor" -- you know who, and when

    by lotac on Wed May 15, 2013 at 07:55:12 PM PDT

  •  I don't see the penny stock ad (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    se portland

    Instead, I get "10 of the ugliest celebrities"

    "We *can* go back to the Dark Ages! The crust of learning and good manners and tolerance is so thin!" -- Sinclair Lewis

    by Nespolo on Wed May 15, 2013 at 08:29:48 PM PDT

    •  I've got (0+ / 0-)

      "5 Steps to a Naturally Bigger Bust" (which is something I don't have a problem with thanks to heredity), and "5 Mistakes Women Make In The Bedroom" which actually sounds interesting... (I normally have ads hidden being a subscriber, but decided to reveal them for the sake of research.)

      The diarist's concern is noted.

      There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

      by Cali Scribe on Thu May 16, 2013 at 01:24:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Enron stock traded (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrJersey, wilderness voice

    well below a dollar/share, near the bitter end. And it was still overpriced.

    Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

    by 6412093 on Wed May 15, 2013 at 09:50:14 PM PDT

  •  I just remember the dorky guy..... (0+ / 0-) a supermodel one.

    They all look dopey to me.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:06:43 PM PDT

  •  they look like advertising to me, not editorials, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and I just look right past them. If I happen to be interested in one of the subjects and it catches my eye I will still go elsewhere to read about my subject rather than click on unsolicited "news" sitting in the advertising spot in my dailykos site.
         Recently I have found it annoying that halfway down the Yahoo! page they have been doing one of those too, but it only took me once to remember the "AdChoices" thingy on the right hand side and learn to hopscotch over that one too.
        But I'm quite a Luddite mostly, and so I bet something more sophisticated could easily grab me.

  •  Anyone who'd click on those things... (0+ / 0-)

    ....deserves whatever scammery they get.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Thu May 16, 2013 at 04:44:56 AM PDT

  •  'From The Web" may insert tracking cookies (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wilderness voice

    After coming across a lengthy Wall Street Journal series on 'demographic tracking' through the insertion of tracking cookies in my (and your) computer, and the depth and breadth of info they gather and sell, I decided to get serious about protecting my Internet Privacy.

    I have about four levels of protection running now, and that damn tacky 'From the Web' still shows up on many sites I visit -- including every page here at dKos and at Talking Points Memo.

    At the top right of the block of pics, you'll see 'by Taboola'.  One of my tracker-blockers, DisConnect (a Chrome extension) blocks known trackers but allows 'Content' sites to pass through.  Disconnect shows that 'by Taboola' line is tracking this page through and

    I haven't looked into Taboola specifically yet, to see what they might insert into my computer.  But if you hover over the 'by Taboola' on this page, you'll see that every diary in dKos is tracked by their 'services'.  (Which, of course, is how dKos gets some income -- from pageviews that expose Taboola's 'From the Web'.

    For those who don't use tracker-blockers, DisConnect show this page as containing 14 websites that are 'informed' that I am on this page.  Disconnect allows 8 of those as Content and blocks the rest as Trackers.

      •  I compared 4 tracker-blockers (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wilderness voice

        Ghostery, DoNotTrack, DisConnect and (a little later) PrivacyFix.

        I found that DisConnect ocnsistnetly captured many more trackers per site than Ghostery or DNT (such as 3to6 captures v 14-32).  Disconnect (if you use their 'visualize page' option) shows you the blocked and allowed (content) websites that are 'informed' of you presence on a page.  This is how I was able to determine that Taboola has two 'watchers' present on each page in dKos (and other sites).

        I'm currently running both DisConnect & PrivacyFix (which do slightly different things).  I have also gone to 2 sites that are involved in 'Industry Self-Regulation' where you can (1) have your system checked for tracker-cookies and (2) 'opt-out' of the companies who are voluntarily offering opt-outs.  Those websites are:

        To keep those opt-out cookies intact when I clean out my cache, I installed Chrome extension 'Keep my Opt-outs' (from memory, hope that name is correct).

        You may want to run your own comparison among the tracker-blockers.  (I chose the first 3 based on 'best of' articles on Lifehacker & HowToGeek.)  Both G & DNT have consistently recieved good reviews from users, but my test convinced me that they weren't the best choice for me.  I think my current set-up does the best job I could cobble together, but I still have an eye out for better protection as it develops.

        •  well done! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          thanks for that thorough review!  Saved for reference and will check out Disconnect.  

          •  Check out PrivacyFix (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wilderness voice

            and their website PrivacyChoice as well.  PF is SUPER-cool!

            One thing of theirs  I haven't been able to use yet (not developed for my browser -- or for Ubuntu? yet) is called PrivacyTurk.  I'll have to tell you a bit about how PF works first --

            The PF install puts an Icon called 'healthbar' up top, comprised of a group of 15 squares, and a site is 'scored' against several criteria.  A safe, tracker-less site will show up all green, with squares turning orange for 'caution' points.  Clicking on the healthbar gives a drop-down that tells you the orange causes for concern.

            Well, not every website has been evaluated by PrivacyChoice, and those show up as an all-white box.  With PrivacyTurk, when you enter a 'white zone', you can choose to connect the white site so PC can evaluate it and block trackers on it, while they also build their database of trackers.  I can't wait to do this!  (The 'white sites' are why I'm still running DisConnect, so I'm protected in places PC hasn't reached yet.)

            The PrivacyChoice website has LOTS of info on what they are doing, why, and how.

            Glad you find this info helpful!

  •  Pumping penny stocks (0+ / 0-)

    has been going on ever since forever. The only good thing to say about it is they are obviously sleaze.  The big investment banks that pushed the internet and housing bubbles are also sleaze and much better at fooling the Very Serious investment People.

    In any case, if you are involved in investing, it is all about discernment.  Good articles as well as junk gets posted on Seeking Alpha.

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