This is one of the biggest and most well known IT companies in the world, hiring people for something that typically takes 3-5 years. Imagine for a bit how “safe” the bet they were making was when deciding whether to take this job. Some people had to relocate state, if not countries to take this job. Which means massive expenses and huge opening for disaster if they are left without job.
But this risk the workers take, is not actually compensated like the capitalist’s is. It’s reversed!
The developers who put their neck on the line for this job, are not going to see the full profit of their work or have any decision-making rights. Instead, if it were successful, Google owners were going to skim a very good portion of the income as profit and the workers were going to get a portion of what their work achieved. Now that it’s unsuccessful, Google owners lost a bit of money (effective chump change for rich people) while the workers face a very real prospect of economic devastation during a global pandemic and a massive downturn in the economy.
You tell me who is taking the higher risk here. The owners, or the workers?
Goddamnit! Someone, managed somehow to insert malicious php scripts into the site which were injecting invisible spam links to my content. Even more insidiously, those links were not injected to the html source of the page unless the browser user agent reported that it was a googlebot, making them all but impossible to see with a normal browser.
I was lucky to notice this because in the Google Webmaster tools I still had my site address added as www.dbzer0.com which was wrong as I’m not using the www. part anymore. Fortunately however, this allowed the site stats to show the keywords in the content instead of simply how people are linking to it, which made all the spam stand out.
When I saw that my fist action was to do a search just to see if I was possibly looking at outdated data. Unfortunately, the results were not uplifting.
This was not good. Looking at the cached copies of these pages, it was obvious that these links existed at least since the start of February which means that whatever is causing this, was added after my upgrade to WP2.7 or managed to remain active after it. The source code for the googlebot looked like this, when it should have been looking like this. The links were apparently pointing to redirection scripts in a cracked Movable Type based blog. I’ve fired an email to the author to advise him to take the site down but have heard nothing from him yet.
Take note people: If you’re not going to keep your site updated and patched, either take it down, or export it into pure html and let that stand. Don’t let your obsolete php and mysql setup running as that just invites people to turn your old site into a spam haven.
At this point I started looking around the interwebs in a bit of a panic as hate this kind of shit being associated with me. I couldn’t find anything exactly like what I had unfortunately. The only thing coming close that I found was this post which at least gave me some ideas on where to look.
I was able to discover 2 malicious php scripts residing in my wp-content folder. One was called cache.php and was on directy under /wp-content/ while the other was in the /wp-content/uploads and had a weirder name (can’t remember now). I summarily deleted them (although in retrospect I should have probably saved them for all of you to see) but I did notice the ironic comment inside, warning people not to copy them and pass them around.
I couldn’t find anything else after that but I was still not certain I was rid of the spam. A quick look through the google bot’s eyes showed me that the page didn’t return any spam results but that could also be because the script doing it is smart enough to recognise fake google agents. The only real way to find out if this still happens is to wait until Google indexes one of the spammed posts again and see if the spam links still appear.
As a precautionary measure, I also changed my WP password (as unlikely as it is that it would have been cracked through brute force) and looked around for anything that can help me discover such stuff in the future. I did find a plugin that looks very promising in this regard but unfortunately due to the way it asks for RAM and the setup of my host’s php, I can’t allocate enough memory for it to run. A last precaution was to add a search alert for these keywords appearing on my site which will, if I get cracked in the future again, give me notice within a few days.
On a more positive note, hopefully by removing these huge-ass scripts (many hundreds of line of code each) perhaps the load on my server will be reduced as well. But I’d be happy even if I simply see these keywords disappear from the Webmaster tools soon.
Of course, back then I was still using the simple alias: Historian, instead of my current and ultimately more kewl Db0. Back then I didn’t blog (very few did anyway) nor was I insterested so much in philosophy and stuff. I was generally into Counterstrike in the first internet clan of Greece 🙂
Unfortunately the Division by Zer0 did not exist back then but surprisingly someone had purchased the domain (I knew that already) for use in some lame DBZ site.
If there’s one thing that online services like this provide is a voice for all the people who’s opinions would never be presented in the traditional media. When those online services take our voices away because they just feel like it, I say that it’s time to move on. They already have a shaky relationship with Atheists but this should be the last straw for many of us.
Like so many things in life, they need us, we do not need them.
Without people using Youtube, it wouldn’t be the online power it is today. I can already foresee that many people will say that Youtube is what everyone is using and thus you don’t have a choice if you want audience. Well, like partisan politics, this is only in your head and it hurts you when you do not realise it. You do have a choice, you just have to use it.
At the moment, many users are protesting the latest ban by reposting the removed video. This is all well and good but, and I hope to be proved wrong, Google is too big, you made them too big. They don’t give a toss. Especially for a few dozen vocal atheists.
Do you want to protest? Take your ball and go home. Make a public statement and invite your subscribers to join you. If there’s anything Youtube is taking note, that is market share. If they were to lose 50k users overnight, they might stand up and take notice.
But where should one go? Well, there are of course dozens of youtube clones out there (many of them considerably better than) but that’s also a problem by itself, for who’s to say that tomorrow that service is not going to start banning your videos as well?
This is why I’m proposing you use something a bit different. Namely Vuze
What is Vuze
Once upon a time, there was a BiTtorrent client called Azureus. It was the best of the bunch. Eventually they decided that P2P can also serve as a great way to serve content without having the immense costs associated with hosting everything on your own server.
They became Vuze
Now you have a service where the content is not held by them but rather by everyone who is using it. They only handle the portal/library and that’s about it. When you publish something to Vuze, you get to keep it as does anyone else who has seen it.
Yes, Vuze does retain the right to remove content from the portal as well but looking from where they started, I believe they will not be as trigger happy as Youtube, plus if things get out of hand.
Other than that, there are a few other very solid benefits to using Vuze.
You are not limited to posting Videos. You can post any kind of file you wish.
You can upload at any quality you wish, at any size you wish, at any length you wish. No need to split in 10 minute segments.
Did I mention that Vuze is a full fledged BitTorrent application? That means that you don’t have to use Vuze only but can use, say, The Pirate Bay as well 😉
Friends and stuff but with quite a lot of extras. One of these extras is that you can share interesting torrents with your friends over a secure connection. I.e. torrents that you found in the aforementioned Pirate bay, or even your own homemade torrents for files you have on your disk.
It’s free software. This means that it’s more ethical and it gets very fast improvements. Plus whatever happens, it will never go away.
So there you have one proposal. I’m certain others will have other services that are good as well but I tend to always side with the ones who have Free Software roots. Better for everyone that way.
Youtube has dropped the ball on Atheist heads one too many times now and unless people take a definite action, they’ll just keep doing it, similar to politicians who get elected no matter what.
And that’s my two cents on this.
UPDATE: It seems youtube has reinstated the Video. Apparently it was organised muslim activists who flagged the video for removal. If that is indeed the case, then Youtube needs to, at the least, give a warning to the ones that flagged it and, my personal suggestion would be to dissalow flagging from those people in the future. They’ve already proved that they abuse the system for their own agendas.