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Real Life Internet Evil: Ezula

By Richard Lowe
Posted Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Our purpose with this series is to use real life examples of deception, fraud and other evil to show how you can better protect yourself. The examples cited in these articles are intended to demonstrate best practices and recommendations.

If you were worried about Microsoft's smart tags, then perhaps you should read this article. Whereas you could argue that Microsoft didn't have the best of intentions with smart tags, at least they provided a way for webmasters to prevent them showing on their pages.

On the other hand, Ezula (and it's product TopText) is the scum that scum wipes off scums feet. The company is evil. While they are not in the same league as Osama Bin Laden (who needs to be volunteered to a special project to determine the effects of nuclear missles on human flesh), they are evil. With them, though, the best "nuke" is to ignore their pitch and never install the product. If you've got it, remove it immediately. It's simple and and obvious.

Here's what Ezula does. They sell users on some exaggerated benefit (much like that other scum product called Gator) and use this to get their product installed on the user's computer. In this case, Ezula "gives" their users something almost identical to smart tags.

The product basically scans HTML pages as they are loaded onto a system, looking for keywords. When it finds a keyword, it replaces it with a special link to the page (or pages) of a page advertiser (along with some links to content of some kind - that's the "benefit" that gets people to install the silly product).

Let's take an example. Pretend you want to sell tires, so you purchase the Ezula rights to the keyword "tires". Now, every time any web page of any Ezula user loads it is scanned for the word "tires". Ezula replaces those with links to your site - even if it is the site of one of your competitors! Or even a site about how people get tired ("he tires easily") or anything like that.

Here's what they tell the users (the poor suckers who download this excrement): "eZula, Inc. is a leading provider of real-time contextual Internet solutions. eZula's flagship product TopText iLookup is the premier personal Internet reference and simplification tool, empowering millions of Internet users with an easy way to retrieve relevant information and simplify Internet Navigation."

Sound's great, doesn't it? Man, if that's all you read you'd run to download this garbage. But wait, read more of the website. Go to the advertisers section and you will read, "eZula's platform leverages the content that the user is viewing in real time and turns key phrases, that best describe the advertiser, into a global advertising opportunity that drives qualified traffic to the advertiser from anywhere on the Web."

They further describe, "ContextProâ„¢, eZula's Contextual Keyword Platform, puts you in front of millions of Internet Users, wherever they are on the Web, and enables you to reach them, based on the Context of every Web page that they are viewing in real time."

Here's an analogy. Suppose you were a webmaster and had a product to sell. You spend your good money creating a beautiful brochure which you are going to pass out at the local mall. The brochure includes some helpful content and some advertisements of your product. You are proud of it because you've put your heart and soul into it's creation and you expect to make a few sales as well.

Now as you walk around the mall handing out your brochure, some sleazy guy in a trench coat is following you around. Once in a while, as you give the brochure to someone, he steps in front of you, takes the brochure out of your hands, pulls out a pen and makes a few changes. He crosses out a few words, writes in some new advertisements (along with some "content" to make it seem legitimate), then hands it off to the person you were giving it to. Worse yet, you don't see this happening and as far as you are concerned the end user received your brochure with your ads. Only it's been changed without your knowledge or permission.

You, the webmaster, have no control over these links. They could be competitors. They could be the links of pornographic sites (I couldn't find anything on the Ezula site which excluded such sites). They could be links to sites which you disagree with for ethical, moral, religious, racial or any number of other reasons. The point is you (the webmaster) have no control over the links from YOUR site. To the user, these appear to be YOUR links.

In fact, they will be sites of people and companies who are unethical and scummy enough themselves to sink to this level of advertising. They will be the sites of any company which is willing to shell out the cash.

Want more information? Check out the following site for the whole story.


If you want to help stop this special brand of evil, then you can take some steps yourself. First, don't install the product on your computer systems. If you've already installed the thing, then immediately uninstall it.

Second, if you do have a problem with this form of scum, then by all means file a report with the better business bureau, write an article of your own, send tell your friends and spread the word. You might also send an email to the advertisers who purchase this "service" (if you installed the product you would find out who they are) and inform them of your distaste. Be sure and point out that you will not purchase their products as long as they advertise in this method. The mighty dollar speaks volumes.

Finally, if you are a webmaster, you can add the following graphic to your pages, along with a link to (


About the Author
Richard Lowe Jr. is the webmaster of Internet Tips And Secrets at ( - Visit our website any time to read over 1,000 complete FREE articles about how to improve your internet profits, enjoyment and knowledge.


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