Google’s Custom Search Adware and Instant Autoclicking

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I’ve temporarily inherited a machine running Linux Mint, which appears to be a form of Ubuntu.

The default home page for a new account in the Firefox browser is Google. Not the Google we all know and love, but a really crappy adware version based on something called “Google Custom Search“. Not surprisingly, the second bullet point on Google’s ad page for the service says “Make money with Adsense for Search”.

When I do a search through the Linux Mint Google Custom Search page, I get results that don’t look at all like they do when searching from google.com. For instance, here’s the lousy result I get with Mint’s Google Custom Search app, along with the usual result from google.com:

The damnedest part is that Mint has linked their adware-infested version of google to the Google toolbar, so even if I search from there, I get crapped-up results without anything like the new Bing-like suggestions Google are offering in the left nav bar, no “Instant”, and lots of ads. The only way to get regular Google search is to go to google.com directly.

<CR> on Google Instant Auto-clicks Ads

I think I’ve discovered the real motivation for Google Instant — automatically clicking ads if you hit return twice. I hadn’t noticed this on my last machine because I’d turned the Instant feature off.

What I see is that if Google Instant is left on (the default), and you enter your search to completion, you’re already looking at your results (if you’ve paused long enough after typing). Then, if you hit return, nothing happens. If you hit return again, perhaps wondering why nothing happened the first time, it auto-clicks the first link, which is typically a sponsored ad.

Sorry, Basistech, you’ll be paying Google for auto-enabling this “feature”.

This behavior goes away if you turn Google Instant off.

Two More Reasons to Use Bing

That’s two more reasons to use Bing, which I’ve now configured as the default search tool on the Firefox toolbar for my linux account.

Google as Kleenex

I would also like to note that my mom now “googles” using Bing. Kleenex, a brand of facial tissue, was the poster child for a brand name turned generic. Companies fight this tooth and nail, but language will not bend to their corporate wills.

I set mom up with a Yahoo! e-mail account ages ago when she left her company. She spends lots of time in e-mail, and does most of her search from her My Yahoo! page. No wonder Bing’s picking up market share.

5 Responses to “Google’s Custom Search Adware and Instant Autoclicking”

  1. afsina Says:

    I believe Mint distribution is the one to blame here. Just change the browser settings instead or use chrome for a change in Linux.
    Good luck with not finding what you are looking for ;).

    • lingpipe Says:

      It’s absolutely the Mint distribution’s fault. I’ll see if I can install a non-Mint-branded Google toolbar plugin.

  2. MIguel Says:

    In Google Instant, when you hit return, a blue triangle appears to the left of the first result. You can use the arrow keys to move up and down the results list and, if you hit return, the browser will be redirected to the marked result page.

    • lingpipe Says:

      Cool — I love keyboard shortcuts. I didn’t realize that’s what was going on. I’m guessing lots of other people will be surprised like me when a return navigates away.

  3. Eamon Nerbonne Says:

    As miguel says, google instant also includes a form of keyboard navigation. This is actually quite useful since it lets you navigate fairly effectively without needing to grab the mouse after typing your query.

    Rather than being a reason to disable instant, that’s a reason to enable it – keyboard navigation is a great feature, even if it means that those sponsored links are on top!

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