In December of 2003 we received the cute animated file below via e-mail.
There is a link to a collection of cute smiley faces. This is not spyware
or adware so what else might it be? Let's try to find out.
a wonderful thing!!!!!!!!!!
This is the enticement. It is a cute animation of the capture of
Saddam Hussein, which occurred on December 13th, just four days
before we received this.
The picture and tag line contain the link below. The "Partner"
code means that someone will get paid if you do something they want.
We have removed the actual partner ID.
Choose from over 6,000 different
smileys, icons, and animations! It's all 100% free.
Works with Yahoo!, Hotmail,
Outlook, Outlook Express and more!
Includes My Web Search -
Get instant search results from the Internet's best search engines
and relevant results in response to address bar queries.
Clicking on the link or the graphic takes you a page filled with
smiley faces, which you may obtain for free if you just click the
flashing download button.
As you can see, quite a bit is offered for free. Note that in addition
to smileys you will be getting My Web Search.
There is also a small link to the "EULA" (End User License
Agreement). You should always read the EULA before installing any
software. This EULA is on a page with the banner, below.
CLICKING ON THE "SUBMIT", "DOWNLOAD", "I
ACCEPT" OR SUCH SIMILAR BUTTON OR LINK AS MAY BE DESIGNATED FOR
PURPOSES OF INITIATING THE DOWNLOAD OF THE APPLICABLE FUN WEB PRODUCT
SOFTWARE PRODUCT (THE "APPLICATION") AND USING THE APPLICATION
YOU AGREE TO BE LEGALLY BOUND BY THESE LICENSE TERMS AND CONDITIONS.
THE APPLICATIONS INCLUDE POPSWATTER, MYMAILSTAMP, SMILEYCENTRAL,
CURSORMANIA AND MY MAIL SIGNATURE SOFTWARE PROGRAMS, EACH
OF WHICH IS COVERED BY THIS AGEEMENT.
ALL OF OUR APPLICATIONS COME WITH THE MYWEBSEARCH BROWSER
PLUGIN -- A CUSTOMIZABLE BROWSER TOOLBAR WHICH PROVIDES END USERS
WITH EASY ACCESS TO SEARCH RESULTS FROM THE BEST SEARCH ENGINES
ON THE INTERNET IN JUST ONE CLICK AND ENHANCES YOUR BROWSER EXPERIENCE
BY PROVIDING RELEVANT LINKS AND RESULTS IN RESPONSE TO MISSPELLED
OR INCORRECTLY FORMATTED BROWSER ADDRESS REQUESTS.
THE APPLICATION ALLOWS YOU TO EASILY ACCESS ALL OF ITS FEATURES
AND FUNCTIONALITY DIRECTLY FROM YOUR BROWSER. IT IS ALSO HIGHLY
CUSTOMIZABLE AND ALLOWS YOU TO CREATE YOUR OWN BUTTONS AND LINKS.
ALL APPLICATIONS ARE SPYWARE FREE AND NO REGISTRATION OR PERSONAL
INFORMATION IS REQUIRED FOR USE.
If you read the EULA you will be assured that this is not spyware
or that you will be giving up personal information. The very first
thing you see, before all the legal language, is reproduced at the
This page is rather sobering. You will be installing not one but
six of the seven programs listed on the banner. There
is no explanation as to why "Spin4Dough" is not included
in the installation.
The next paragraph mentions that you will also install a browser
plug-in called "MyWebSearch", which is not listed on the
banner. This is certainly not the "fun" type of product
that this Website is promoting.
The search plug-in will direct you to their search site whenever
the plug-in feels you need to be. This appears that the main purpose
for giving away the smileys; it is a simple means of getting you
to switch to a new search tool.
Searches are big business and this makes it simple for them to
get new customers. Remember that partner number? Someone may be
making money whenever you search.
located at http://www.funwebproducts.com/privacy/.
If you wish to withdraw your consent to the
communication and data usage as described herein, you should uninstall
any and all of the Applications from your computer. You may uninstall
or remove the Application at any time by following the instructions
on our website at http://www.funwebproducts.com/uninstall.html,
or using the Windows add/remove programs function to remove the
following programs, depending upon with FWP components you may have
elected to install:
My Web Search
My Web Search (AOL and Yahoo Messengers)
My Web Search (Outlook, Outlook Express, and IncrediMail)
Search Assistant - MyWebSearch
According to Section 5 of the EULA you can easily un-install the
applications. The wording is a bit vague, not stating whether all
packages will be removed.
The removal process requires using the Windows un-installer. Selecting
"My Web Search Bar"removes the My Web Search toolbar and
the FunWebProduct feature. Selecting "Search Assistant - My
Web Search" removes the Search Assistant.
We have read stories at several tech support sites indicating that
the fun components can indeed be removed, however, the MyWebSearch component stubbornly
refused to be removed; we cannot confirm or deny these stories.
You understand, acknowledge and agree that the
Application includes software that allows us to distribute updates
and fixes. Such updates will occur only upon prior notice to you,
except for the limited case where notice is not possible due to
technical problems or an emergency that requires us to update the
application in order to maintain existing functionality or to comply
with the law. All such updates shall be governed by and made in
compliance with this Agreement and the Fun Web Products Privacy
A little troubling, but probably not an issue, is the statement
that they can update the software at any time and that normally,
but not always, you will be notified first.
That seems a bit risky. Today the company may play fair but tomorrow
anything is possible.
So, do you want your free Saddam Hussein smiley faces? We don't. We also
don't want any smiley faces depicting Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini,
Idi Amin, Slobodan Milosevic, Josef Stalin, or any number of other poor excuses
for humanity. We don't think any of them are terribly humorous.
Web search engines are big business these days and the smileys appear
to be a means of getting you to divert your searches to a particular search
system. Their choice of honoring a vicious animal is rather unfortunate and we debated using the animated graphic
at the top of this page for that reason.
We cannot speak for the quality of these products or the possible problems
they may cause. We can tell you that we will not be using any of them.
Our computers work very nicely, thank you, using a stock version of Internet
Explorer and we have no problem manually typing Google's address into
the address bar.