Ask Jeeves Getting Flagged As Spyware

    September 12, 2005

Search engine Ask Jeeves appears to be having a world of problems with some of its software. Apparently, a number of anti-spyware firms have flagged Jeeves for some of the downloading techniques and distribution channels it chooses for its toolbars and other software.

A great story by Paul Roberts at Eweek recounts the butler’s bitter battle against being listed by anti-spyware firms like Sunbelt Software and Facetime Inc. Jeeves is currently lobbying these companies to get the ranking changed and it must be stated the not all anti-spyware companies are doing this, just some.

Roberts mentions that the companies in question say Jeeves isn’t necessarily distributing adware or spyware but that their behavior for distributing some of its software is problematic.

Ask Jeeves is owned by IAC/InterActiveCorp. IAC also owns Teoma, Bloglines, FunWeb Products, MySearch, myway, iWon and excite. Sometimes, when dealing with said companies or others, the software will hit your computer without clearly saying that they will do so. MySearch, for example, is a toolbar, with similar features and functions to most others like Yahoo, Google, etc. The problem comes in is when certain programs MySearch is teamed with don’t always suggest clearly you’re downloading software.

Roberts mentions iMesh and I’ve seen similar things occur with WeatherBug and other software utilities where you download them thinking that’s all you get and then you get the other software like MySearch and it takes a concerted effort sometimes to get rid of it.

As a number of people have pointed it out, it’s not the fact that their product is bad, it’s more the method of distribution which mimics the way most spyware and adware are distributed and in all honesty it will remain an issue as long as it persists.

Ask Jeeves doesn’t have the market share or the brand recognition of Yahoo or Google or MSN so they do have to come with unique methods of attracting attention. The problem is this presents certainly level if distrust that will be difficult to overcome. One can hope for Jeeve’s sake that this isn’t the cost of doing business.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.