This blog is about Graphic Design, Vector Art, and Cartoon Illustration

January 21, 2015

What an spam aggregate site is

Spam aggregate sites on the internet are set up to automatically generate content found on the web. The bad guys who set them are are looking to attract visitors in order to (at the very least) get a lot of hits on Adsense, and at the worst steal information from people, and infect your computer with malware.

So, if you see things that you may have posted, for example, on Pinterest, showing up on some strange site somewhere, there's a good chance it's an aggregate site. Since aggregate sites are generated automatically, they're usually a hodge-bodge of seemingly unrelated things, like car parts with flower arrangements. If it offends you to see your images used elsewhere, be careful, they may be counting on that!

I just visited an aggregate site for a friend of mine and, sure enough, it definitely had the look of something put together at random by a computer. Something that I hadn't seen before, however, was a contact form that (supposedly) would allow you to have you images removed. I clicked on that link, and immediately it tried to install malware. If you clicked on that link with a PC with no virus protection, you're already infected. Luckily, I'm on a Mac, and besides I can stop any potential malware from automatically downloading, so I'm OK.

After the malware was installed, I noticed that there was a nice form that would allow you to have your image removed. All they needed was your name and email address. Of course, once they have that, then they can start sending spam out to your email address. Don't give it to them. Of course, what they're doing is taking advantage of people's desire to control images that they post on the web.

I wish I could say that this can be stopped, but it can't. But, like people in alleys saying, *pssstt* and showing you watches, the best thing to do is to ignore them. And if you don't want your images, comments, and anything you post on the web to be public, don't post. AT all. Personally, I'm OK with people posting, and reposting, my images, and cartoons. I have a strong enough presence on the web that a few aggregate sites with my cartoons doesn't really bother me.

They have always been bad guys, from highwaymen on lonely roads to phishers on the web. The good news is that they really are a small percentage of the good people who make up the human race. The bad news is that they exist at all.

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