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Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What is Zwinky?

“It’s a world of fun. All in one toolbar.”
I recently wrote about Zwinky and how it installs the MyWebSearch Tool bar from a company called IAC Interactive.  While I recommended folks remove the MyWebSearch Toolbar it didn’t seem to bother Ask.com which is also owned by IAC.

I found this week that going to Ask.com and entering “What is Zwinky” the top listing isn’t the Zwinky website.  Instead the top listing is a link to my Bits from Bill Blog.  Now that’s what I call a FunWebProduct! Now that's funny 

Update 10/30: Ask.com has since removed this Blog from their search but I did create a screen shot you can see if you click here.

My discovery that IAC Interactive is connected to StopBadWare.org got a fair amount of attention. It certainly sparked the interest of AntiSpyware crusader Ben Edelman. Ben has spent a lot of time and research looking into “Current Practices of IAC/Ask Toolbars”. He makes a good case.

Ben’s doesn’t approve of the following practices and I agree with him. There are better ways to promote your business than the following.

  • Promoting its toolbars on sites targeted to kids. Details.
  • Promoting its toolbars through ads that appear to be part of other companies' sites. Details.
  • Promoting its toolbars through other companies' spyware. Details.
  • Installing without any disclosure whatsoever and without any consent whatsoever. Details.
  • Soliciting installations via "deceptive door openers" that do not accurately describe the offer; failing to affirmatively show a license agreement; linking to a EULA via an off-screen link. Details.
  • Making confusing changes to users' browsers -- increasing Ask's revenues while taking users to pages they didn't intend to visit. Details.
  • Yesterday Spyware Warrior Suzi Turner published her interview with Ben Edelman on her ZDNet Blog.  (Click Here)

    If you actually came here looking for specific information on Zwinky and it’s cute little avatars, I would direct you to what our WinPatrol knowledge base recommends.  (Click Here )

     

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    48 Comments:

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    See I disagree- there is plenty of disclosures when download Zwinky's. Besides why are you not on the bandwagon of Yahoo or Google practicing the same thing (i.e. Google bundles their toolbar with Sun Java installations which most users download when installing an applet). The choice is ours-take the product or leave it but once again it is a choice, not devious "badware".

    12:49 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    So, it is a bad idea to download Zwinky? I was possibly thinking about it earlier, but I really did not know what it was... I did some searching and found your site, so I was really wondering what it was... Some real info, other than all those sites that just make you download it. >.<

    8:15 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Because Yahoo and Google aren't malware and don't mess up your computer, thats the difference. websearch is a nightmare and a pain to get rid of!!

    2:31 PM  
    Anonymous mai said...

    thank you so much for telling us about the spy ware that comes with it.

    2:52 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    My Daughter wanted Zwinky because My Neice and Her Friends have it.
    I was busy with allot of things and didn't give it much thought, I said ok, get your Zwinky.
    When things calmed down and I got on the PC to look up something online, there it was.
    MyWebSearch Toolbar, Uggg!
    I was going to delete it but She begged and said all Her Friends where on it and that they'd think She was un-cool because She couldn't get on and chat. OK, I remember being a Kid and I know that computers are a crucial link for kids now Days so I let it go.
    I was over visiting my Mom the other Day when my Niece said someone on Zwinky was wanting to know where She lives, this alarmed me.
    My Daughter is 13 and my Niece is 12, way too young for un moderated chat. I thought Zwinky was a Kid friendly, moderated chat, WRONG!
    My Wife made up an Avatar and went in to see what was going on and it disgusted us both.
    She posed as an 11 Year old Girl and within 5 Min She had Avatars asking where She lived and 2 asked if She would send them Pictures of Her naked.
    One wanted Her to take off Her clothes and touch Herself.
    Parents beware, Zwinky is NOT Kid safe.

    1:55 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I knew these things were evil, not just badly drawn... Boycott them.

    1:08 AM  
    Blogger sarah said...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkman_Center_for_Internet_and_Society

    wikipedia is linked to barkmen center


    Google is linked to stopbadware.org

    1:56 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I play Zwinky myself and i think it's a great game! True... there are many perverts that use zwinky these days... but most chat rooms you go on, there are still men asking you to give them your address! You have to explain to your child that they will get hurt if they give out any private information on any website/chat room. I have been playing Zwinky for 2 years now and i havn't had any spy ware at all. So that can't be true. The only problem with Zwinky is some characters have 'sex' by making the sounds and pretending to touch each other up, it's discusting to watch and hear. THANKS FOR READING!! XxxxxX

    2:47 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Why isn't this service being reported to the authorities?
    My next email will be to them to launch an investigation. We do not want to provide additional avenues to the predators out there.

    This is completely unacceptable!

    10:53 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    ANONYMOS: i JUST DONT APPROVE ZWINKY BECAUSE MY DAUGHTER SAID THAT AFTER SHE DOWNLOADED THAT SITE, PEOPLE WERE TELLING HER PHONE NUMBERS AND TELLING HER TO SAY DISCUSTING THINGS TO ME ABOUT IT. DONT LET YOUR CHILDREN LET THEM
    GO ON TO THAT STUPID ZWINKY SITE.

    DVYTEYUTECYTECTECJECJECJ

    7:06 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I downloaded and installed Zwinky for the first time and analyzed it. Its open ports, creates vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, and attracts malware among other things. As an information security professional I highly advise parents not to let their kids use zwinky at all, find some other fun software that isn't web based. If you can't then invest in some logging software to track what zwinky is doing. Or just install zwinky on a PC with no internet access.

    7:16 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I too installed Zwinky for my 11 yr old daughter thinking it was kid-friendly (they sure target young girls especially with the make your own cutie virtual you) and after I monitered what they SAY I want OUT^ How do I get out of it? Especially it being on my toolbar? thanks

    10:01 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Avoid Zwinky. There is little disclosure about the "total package" you'll end up with.

    I tried to dissuade my girlfriend from downloading it when she was on sick leave and bored for a week. She didn't listen, ended up with "mywebsearch" and a desktop full of nice little offers.

    Took me over a week during my spare time to fix her computer, remove the TONS of spyware, and get it running properly again.

    3:24 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    hi, im 13 yearls old and one day i saw an advertisment for Zwinky. It looked like the best game ever. So i downloaded it. It was my absolute favourite game...thats is until i noticed on my AVG Anti-Virus Center that there were 21 trojan horses... my older sister's partner (who works for Adam Internet) explained to me what a trojan horse is. This meant there was probably some fat slob sitting in his ugly house watching every page i click onto on the internet and taking note of every PASSWORD i type in for.. everything! I had to get the computer COMPLETELY WIPED OUT because of that STUPID ZWINKY. That meant re-donloading EVERYTHING, losing ALL my favourites. it was a nightmare. Oh, and while playing zwinky, all i had to do was wear a short skirt and i would have tons of guys asking to have SEX and send me NIDE PICS.. NO WAY IN HELL I WOULD DO SUCH A DUMB THING. DONT DOWNLOAD ZWINKY...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    8:25 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    please do not download zwinky it will give you VIRUSES just like it did to me.. IM WARNING UU

    8:26 AM  
    Blogger PenaltyKillah said...

    More and more sites are coming up, imitating MyWebSearch/Zwinky/Smiley Central's methods. One of them, imvu, features 3D avatars. Unfortunately, almost everything has to be paid in cold, hard, cash. And they lure you to pay in ways you'll never imagine. For example, once you create your account, your username begins with "Guest_". To remove that annoying prefix, you'd need to pay. That's only the beginning.

    Another 3D avatar site, called Meez.com, doesn't provide downloadables with spyware. But its inhabitants mostly consisted on young average teens being... moms, you know best... STUPID. A usual chat room topic would start with: "hi whos hott type XXX" No one chats longer than a line, with their filthy jargon to ambiguate their communication. These sites HAVE to be stopped. Healthier and more engaging alternatives HAVE to be considered. What about... chucking them OUT of the door?

    3:12 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I have an anti virus program on my computer and I downloaded zwinky. First it said, there was "badware" on it but it was nothing to be alarmed about. So, I proceeded to download then a virus alert came up. I strogly advise people to not let their children download Zwinky.

    3:14 AM  
    OpenID xxxmarsfirexxx said...

    GIves you loads of viruses and many perverts...definately not reccomended for children. ANd DEFINATELY not reccomended for downloading!

    9:15 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Zwinky is fun but you must download a software to keep your computer safe.It's fun and for kids but they need to stop cursing and talking about sex.

    7:01 PM  
    Anonymous zwinky is not good for you said...

    i downloaded for my 9 year old daughter
    I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE SAFE
    but not.
    she used a hottie with a tank top and short skirts PERVERTS EVERYWHERE
    so when she was asleep i undownloaded it
    then ran a virus scan

    3:46 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I got curious about it, too, because it looked fun, and for years I've enjoyed playing around with avatar/dolls. I downloaded it, and was lucky enough to get rid of it before any virus came from it.
    I just wanted to add my 2 cents because I saw up there someone mentioned IMVU or whatever. I had that downloaded, as well, and got a full blown virus from it.

    A tip for parents - www.gaiaonline.com It's still full of spyware ads, and there are still perverts, but at least you won't get any viruses. lol

    5:11 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    zwinky is nt a bad site for kids ok?

    8:55 PM  
    Blogger Bill Pytlovany said...

    I welcome all opinions but based on most comments here it certainly isn't any place I would recommend to kids. ok? :)

    Bill

    8:58 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    No, don't listen to what the people say, zwinky is perfectly safe for your computer, i've had one for over 2 years and nothing bad has happened, try it, you'll have fun.

    7:51 PM  
    Blogger Jw21 of 2005. said...

    http://www.siteadvisor.com/sites/zwinky.com

    Not just us saying that...

    1:52 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    is there anyway to get rid of the virus without having to wipe out your computer?

    12:29 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Zwinky has gotten better, sexually wise, I mean, I have been using it for about a week with no viruses, and not a lot a perverts. One here and there.

    5:38 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    When it comes to children, don't let young children on it. Like, 9 year olds. There are a lot of perverts, most of them asking for you do do stuff for them on a webcam. But sensible kids about my age (13) and older, it can be really fun. You dress up your person and go places. I didn't get anyone asking for my details.
    As for the viruses, when i downloaded zwinky it made my computer kinda slow, but after doing a virus check i realizes there was nothing to worry about. A couple of weeks later i went on, and there were about 6 tracking cookies, 2 or 3 trojan horses and a high risk virus that we had to call proffessionals in to get off. Our computer is still a little spazzy.
    Overall, i'd say just don't download it. It't not worth the trouble.

    12:21 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    ZWiNKY iS A REALLY bAd SitE f0R KiDS.i W0ULdNt REC0MMENd it At ALL.it ALS0 9iVES 0Ut t0NS && t0NS 0f ViRUSES![N0t SAfE f0R CHiLdREN!]

    8:13 PM  
    Blogger johnhon123 said...

    i had a zwinky 4 not even a year and it wiped out my had dive

    6:04 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I absolutely was obsessed with Zwinky, but it put so many viruses on my computer and one day I couldnt get onto the servers on the zwinky website so i uninstalled it and never used it again, but im still havin zwinky withdrawls, it was so fun

    12:06 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    ok am 13 or 15 u guess and i got zwinky it has a virus that crasehd my computer and i couln't belive it after i got a home finilly it crashed i need to repair my computer i wanted to chat alot my cousin has it so i installled without my parents permission i felt bad and once they repaired my mom said i can't install zwinky cuz that could of had the virus that crashed my computer!

    10:55 PM  
    Anonymous Linda said...

    How do we remove Zwinky once it has been downloaded to our computers? I'm using Microsoft and the usual "Add or Remove Programs" under the Control Panel which lists running programs doesn't show Zwinky.

    I accidentally downloaded Zwinky and it has really messed up my Toolbar and who knows what else? ((sigh))

    Thanks for any help!

    9:21 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Yes,i Actully Use Zwinky and im only 11 zwinkys actully fun but heres lots of "stuff" going on so its not a good place for young kids that DONT know that they shouldent give out there adress and info but now zwinky has made a zwinky for kids from ages of 2-12! http://www.zwinkycuties.com

    Completely Kid safe!
    kids use pre aproved chat phrases and good clothes and its very fun for kids! Go nuts rember

    http://www.zwinkycuties.com

    9:24 PM  
    Anonymous Jayme said...

    I downloaded this application yesterday, not realizing what it was even for, and now every time i click a link that automatically opens a new window my comp freezes up. Do you know how I can fix this? Please straight e-mail me any advice b/c I dont know if i'll remember to check back on this site. Thank you. jaymedawn@att.net

    9:53 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Zwinky isn't tehnically a virus , the "virus" is actally that stupid toolbar. Some anti-viruses consider it "bad" like NOD 32 but for example, AVG doesn't find it a virus.And I agree: Zinky is not for children under 14 years old.
    P.S. Sorry for the LANGUAGE MISTAKES , I'm from France.

    1:53 PM  
    Anonymous Sharingan101 said...

    Hello, im a 14 year old boy that too had zwinky. I had it for well over a year.yea I had a girl friend but wat was the point? you cant accually see each other. anyways i had it on my computer for about 2 years and I didnt have and virus blocker, so I went a head and played. after a while my computer got slower and slower and slower.... my friend said i may have a virus so he set me up with avast antivirus. the second it was finished downloadind. BAM a siren came on and said warning virus detected. so i scaned and guess what i found...... 38 TROJAN HORSES!!!!! along with other viruses. it whiped out my computer. i had to get a new tower. NEVER USE ZWINKY!!!!!!!

    12:19 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    i disagree, i have the best anti virus software, (nortron) all i get is tracking cookies, maybe you cant read. ive had it for 3 years, no trojans, these people are lieing out of there butt.

    2:43 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I played zwinky about a year ago and it was one of the best things i played on the computer.(addicting too) things started to go wrong with my computer. i finally got it removed. now i still miss playing it. but i know the consequences....

    12:06 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Zwinky really isn't good for kids, the people there are.......UGH. My folks actually called the COPS because my six year old sister gave out our adress + phone. That website is just...full of pedos. And anyone with the word smexxi in there name should have their ip adress banned before they even sign up. :P

    12:51 AM  
    Anonymous Almorada said...

    The only problem I have with zwinky is all the young kids chatting in it. It makes me wonder, I know for a fact zwinky is full with many perverted users. But also, all the immature people can really suck out the fun of this game. I have Norton and Run scans often, my computer seems to be working fine for me even though I had zwinky for three years. BEWARE! though, it is related to smiley central and It is very popular for giving out spy ware. Does anyone know a way I can download zwinky without the annoying mywebsearch bundle?

    10:27 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Umm well ive been using zwinky like everyday since i got it i was soo happy its really cool you dress up dolls and shop and stuff like that but then my laptop became slow and well we got it looked at and it had 2000 VIRUSES on it thanks to zwinky soo i recommend not going on it but its addictive :/ i relii want to go on it but i can't :(

    4:37 AM  
    Anonymous Roxey said...

    I play zwinky and i dont hink its a bad thing it depends on tthe friends you make there. The only down to it is MyWebSearch. Ever since i had that toolbar i'v had problems with my computer. I'm searching for a way to download zwinky WITHOUT MyWebSearch.

    4:35 PM  
    Blogger lindsey said...

    So I've been using zwinky since I was 11 and my computer got a virus twice. I'm having very bad zwinky withdrawls (I'm now 14) and since I have VIPRE (its anti-virus and anti-spyware). I never had any type of anti-virus on my old computer. My plan is to download zwinky and uninstall the toolbar. Would zwinky be safe after I did all this?

    Anyways, I don't recommend zwinky to anyone 13 or under. There are many perverts and sick sick people. My first boyfriend had dirty images on his profile (of naked lesbians and other pornographics). Also, teenagers are being pressured into posting pictures and sending NUDE images of themselves via texting and email. People are also cybersexing using words (since zwinkys can't move). They also talk in letters> h3y, wh4ts up? I think its to make sure their parents can't read what they're saying. 3= E, 4= A, ii= i, sz= S. Not all teenagers will crack under the pressure so don't automatically assume your teen is doing bad things but I would suggest checking their profile and watching their screens once in awhile.

    1:01 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Okay for everyone wanting an honest opinion not just the 'kid-unfriendly' comments, I'll give in my two cents. I've started using zwinky in 2006, and it's just downhill since. You cant check your homepage unless you install the very useless and annoying toolbar. You also tend to get other widely known virus attractors such as smiley central with the toolbar. Zwinky works slowly in most cases, and not many Scans actually warns us about it. However, just the look of the site and the very fake administrator's profilez is enough to drive me away, oh and PARENTS BEWARE, zwinky is becoming more and more money hungry each day (another IMVU episode?), so save your money and time and do not download zwinky to begin with.

    6:54 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Ridiculous game, in my opinion. I've played Zwinky on and off for 3 years.. Did you know they even had a COMMERCIAL for it?! Of course then I wasn't getting virus'. Its not ridiculously bad on the perverts.
    Not a game for children. A game for children ? Clubpenguin.

    11:15 PM  
    Blogger bob said...

    Okay. Zwinky is very innapropriate. My friend and i had one but then my computer started going soooo slow so we stopped using it.
    theres also alot of perverts wanting to have smex. (sex)
    they use words to indicate their actions. and it is no place for kids under 14.

    Bob

    3:05 PM  
    Blogger Amanda-Lisa said...

    For a website that is mostly aimed towards children between the ages of 8 and 15, I have witnessed countless conversations, behaviors and activities that are extremely inappropriate for children of this age group. I have been asked to give personal details such as my address/e-mail address and phone number, I have been solicited for sex not only by men claiming to be the same age as me, but also by men claiming to be 18 or older. I've been asked to engage in sexually explicit conversations, send naked pictures of myself, strip/touch myself on webcam and a couple of times, I was even asked if I would be willing to meet up for sex... The site is also notorious for cyber bullying and bad language since there are no language filters or parental controls... The site targets young children, but really anyone of any age can sign up... Personally, I don't think this website is appropriate for anyone under the age of 17... It's also been linked to viruses and malware... Parents beware! If your child(ren) is/are asking your permission to use this website, DO NOT allow them to. Many people on this site will lie about their age to talk to teenagers and young children! I've seen it happen and it's happened to me. Don't let your child(ren) fall victim!

    4:58 PM  

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