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RealTime IT News

Beware, MySpace Video Enthusiasts

Be careful, MySpace users. And MSN Spaces and Yahoo 360 users for that matter. That video you want to watch on your friend's profile may not be worth it.

One such video, called "Friends play a hilarious practical joke," is wending its way through social-networking sites.

With just a few unwitting clicks agreeing to download the "Zango Search Assistant," users prompt a steady stream of pop-up ads forcing a severe slow down in computer performance.

The adware, produced by Bellevue, Wash.-based Zango, presents users with a pop-up window of fine print explaining the end user license agreement (EULA). Once they click, though, the trouble begins.

Their clicks will download a "Zango Search Assistant," which, according to tiny text in the pop-up, "will show you a limited number of ads that pop up on your screen in a separate browser."

Zango makes money by partnering with webmasters who post videos on their sites.

Zango pays the webmasters every time a visitor downloads the Zango Search Assistant using licensed code, and advertisers pay Zango for serving their ads.

It might sound like a nice arrangement, but all involved don't benefit.

In an MSN Spaces post from March, HanAnn4U2 suggested in her own way to steer clear of the search assistant.

"Never download zango," the poster wrote in her blog. "It really f**** up your computer."

Social networks are ideal markets for Zango partners, because users who crave free content for their own profiles are likely to pass around the partner's licensed code.

But though Zango is legal, it's not allowed on MySpace, MSN Spaces or Yahoo 360. Those sites do not allow users to sell advertisements on their profile pages.

Stan Monlux, Zango senior director of business development, told internetnews.com they forbid partners from posting Zango content on MySpace profiles.

But it happens anyway.

This week, on MySpace member ZangoCash's profile page, visitors could download "Friends play a hilarious practical joke."

Monlux did admit that some of its partners do violate their Agreement and that Zango detects and deals with them effectively.

"We routinely check, and we've built tools that will help us track back the domains from which our applications have been installed," he said.

But how eagerly are those tools used?

A Zango spokesperson later told internetnews.com that MySpace member ZangoCash turned out to be a Zango employee. (At press time, the profile has been gutted.)

So perhaps even despite Monlux's assurances, MySpace, MSN Spaces and Yahoo 360 users should remain wary the next time a pop-up window tempts them with such a title as "Jessica Simpson Screensaver."

Zango screen
Be careful with your clicks.