XB90 Goes Down

    December 28, 2005

I reported on Monday’s “Hobson & Holtz Report” that Om Malik had discovered a blog-purportedly addressing VOIP issues-that was stealing his content and posting it alongside Google AdWords.

Malik noted that he had discovered the work of at least 40 other bloggers on the blog, which evidently had several other blogs focusing on other issues (presumably all populated with stolen content). Dave Burstein noted in an email VOIP blogger Andy Abramson shared with several other bloggers:

The Internet makes many things much easier, including scams. Folks like this can be up and running in hours, and with ads from Google can make money far faster than a court would shut them down. While Om has remedies in court, they are likely expensive and slow. On the other hand, I don’t believe Google would want to be an enabler of obvious crooks like this, and assume Adsense terms of service gives Google the ability to shut them off quickly. I’m standing by to see what Google does about this one, now that I’ve informed them.

It’s not clear whether Google in fact had anything to do with shutting XB90 down, or if enough commentary appeared in the blogosphere that the site’s hosting company pulled the plug. In any case, it was good to see the site vanishing within days of Malik’s discovery of it. In the meantime, though, Malik found the problem more pervasive than he had thought. Today, Malik wrote, “In the past few days, as we tried to get one site shut down, many more examples have come to light that are simply ripping the content, and repurposing it for making Ad dollars.”

So, it’s a cautionary tale. If your organization has a blog devoted to a specific topic, it’s not unlikely that some XB90-like scammer could be appropriating that content in order to make a quick buck. Meanwhile, you have no idea what other content is appearing on the same blog-could be material you’d never want associated with your company. It’s another thing to monitor-a blog search now and then based on phrases appearing in your business blogs.

Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.