FunWebProducts & SmileyCentral - Real Freeware?

Terri Says SmileyCentral Clearly States They Are Not Adware Or Spyware and Wonders 'What's up with us?"
I was an avid reader of your newsletter for several years but lately it appears you're taking your personal opinions and stating them as if they were facts. To me that is editorializing. I didn't subscribe to an editorial, I subscribed to a helpful newsletter. I recently install SmileyCentral, it's free and it's not spyware or adware. You have your facts wrong and I for one think you need to come clean on this. I realize you make a competing product and I think that is why you're biased. I have included part of SmileyCentral's License Agreement:

"...Adware is a software program that specifically monitors a person's Web surfing and disrupts it by displaying contextual pop-up advertising. Spyware is a software program that surreptitiously tracks personally identifiable information about a person or organization. It will either save such information or send it to third parties when the person is connected to the Internet. Spyware is stealthy and may attach itself to a person's computer without his or her knowledge or consent. An example of spyware is a program that hijacks a person's modem to change dial-up numbers or a keylogger program that covertly records anything a person types, including passwords, emails and credit card numbers. The Fun Web Products do not engage in any of these activities and are not adware or spyware.;;;"


We're not sure what good responding to your statement will do. If you accept FunWebProducts definitions then we have nothing to say. Because about the only things that would qualify as spyware by their definition would be viruses, keyloggers, worms, and Trojans. And the only thing that would qualify as "adware" would be spyware itself. FunWebProducts can play with semantics all they want. The fact remains that most all good anti-spyware will remove the adware and hijackers that FunWebProducts installs: Symantec (Norton), McAfee, Computer Associates, PC Tools, Sunbelt, and Webroot all make anti-spyware and all of them remove FunWebProducts component, like "MyWebSearch", "MySearch", "MyTotalSearch" or whatever the trick name du jour is today.

However if you want the facts we'll try to give them to you as best we can.

First, FunWebProducts saying that adware is "a software program that specifically monitors a person's Web surfing and disrupts it by displaying contextual pop-up advertising" is so far removed from the actual definition of adware as to be outrageous. By this narrow non-definition, they're limiting the use of the word adware to what most people would call "spyware". Any program that follows you around the Web and spies on your Web surfing activities is spyware, plain and simple. And, even more ridiculous is saying "contextual popup advertising" is a criterion for adware. What about non-contextual popups, aren't those ads? Or are only advertisements which are contextual which "popup"?   And what about advertisements that are shown in the program interface? If these aren't ads then what are they?

Adware by definition is any program solely or partly supported by advertising. It does not matter if they're contextual or not. It does not matter if they popup or not. If there are ads shown anywhere on the computer that wouldn't be there if the program was not installed then it's adware. SmileyCentral cannot deny ads are shown in the program's interface. We've taken a screen cap of SmileyCentral running on one of our computers clearly displaying an advertisement. Please see Whether that ad is contextual or not is irrelevant. By definition SmileyCentral is adware. Isn't that an advertisement you see right there in the SmileyCentral program interface? Hmmm. It is reasonable to conclude that FunWebProducts/SmileyCentral is being paid to display that ad. And where do you think those ads are coming from? The bowels of your computer or is SmileyCentral downloading them to your computer via the open ports it uses? And if so, did they have your permission to use your computer in that way. Most likely yes. Most likely you gave them permission (legally) because once you install their software you're bound by their EULA, privacy policy, and terms of use and terms of service. Whether you read all 11,000+ words of their various policies or not. Ignorance is not bliss.

Anyone can play the semantics game. You can argue that hotdogs are not really meat. You can state a premise that meat is that which comes only directly from an animal, like steak, pork chops, or bottom round roast. Based on your premise, then, you can conclude that hotdogs by definition are not meat. If you were a vegetarian and started with that premise, you could logically eat all the hotdogs you want and still call yourself a vegetarian. Fact: adware is any program that displays ads on your computer. Whether they popup, pop under, are contextual or non-contextual in nature; whether they appear in your browser or email toolbars; on your task bar or in the program interface itself; any program displaying advertising anywhere on your computer, is adware. And, hotdogs are still meat.

And FunWebProducts definition of spyware is equally laughable. They only choose the most nefarious examples of spyware. Any program that tracks your activities, whether those activities are surfing the Web, emailing your friends, using a chat program, or a "smiley" program is spyware. Isn't it. Isn't a program that tracks the movements you make on the Web or anything on your computer spying on you? Unless the program gives you a clear warning that your Web browsing is being tracked, collated and that information is being sent back to a server on the Web to be sold to advertisers or spa/mmers or just stored on the server- it is spying isn't it? What's the definition of the verb "spy"? It is "To seek or observe something secretly and closely". And that's what spyware does if it does not warn you every time you open your browser, email client, or "Smiley" program that your use of the program, or your Web surfing activities, or your email usage, or even the use of your own computer is going to be tracked, then that program is "spying" on you and that makes it "spyware".

FunWebProducts/SmileyCentral has used every means at its considerable disposal, including spending hundreds of millions of dollars on Internet advertising and affiliate programs to get its products installed on as many computers as possible. And, unfortunately, FunWebProducts is probably installed on some 50 million computers or more. Smileycons (our program) is installed on thousands not millions of computers; so saying FunWebProducts is a competitor of ours is like saying we're a competitor of Microsoft.

We tell the truth. Sometimes our answers may not always be right but if we're wrong we'll tell you we're wrong. We're not wrong about SmileyCentral. It's adware. It's a browser/search engine hijacker, and it's a software bundler. Its list of programs is now up to fourteen. You get fourteen programs when you install SmileyCentral. An honest company would give you choice of what to install but FunWebProducts does not. You have to install "MyWebSearch" (or MyTotalSearch, or MySearch or whatever they decide to call it tomorrow) or you cannot use SmileyCentral or any of the other products in the bundle. Why? Because MyWebSearch is the money maker. They're hoping by disguising advertisement as search results (and with MyWebSearch installed it does not matter what search engine you use, your results will be obfuscated and reordered to show advertisements disguised as search results first- sometimes causing you to have to scroll through one or two pages to get to the real search results. All the while, FunWebProducts is betting you'll accidentally click on one of the disguised advertisements, and if you do they get paid. This is not only unfair to you it's cheating the advertiser. They're paying by the click. If you "accidentally" click an ad thinking it's a real search result, chances are you're going right back to your search. The advertiser pays for your click but doesn't get your business. Of course even sp/am email works - because some, although very few, will buy something.

It's a shame that FunWebProducts doesn't come clean about how it makes its money. According to their Web site, they don't make any money, they just love you so much they want to give you something that costs them millions of dollars to develop and advertise absolutely free. Just because they're such wonderful people. If SmileyCentral spelled out exactly how they make money and was honest about it, then people still chose to download it then we'd have no argument with them. We'd still question the ethics of bundling fourteen programs when the user thinks he's downloading only one (although they do state though not very noticeably that you're going to get a bundle of programs). And we'd still advise people not to download it because with the constant addition of more programs, all automatically installed as "updates" without the express knowledge of the user, will cause severe strain on all but the most powerful computers and will potentially cause computer problems down the road.

And finally, we're not the only ones who think SmileyCentral/FunWebProducts is adware or "PUS" (potentially unwanted software). Spyware Doctor, SpySweeper, Pest Patrol, McAfee, Panda, Sunbelt Software and yes, even our old buddy Norton Internet Security, all detect and remove the prime FunWebProducts component "MyWebSearch" ( And, guess what? Without that money-making component installed, SmileyCentral won't work. Do all the companies that make anti-spyware tools make competing products, or do you think perhaps we just might be telling the truth about FunWebProducts? We'd like to publish FunWebProducts side of the story but so far they've never responded. How about it FunWebProducts, tell us exactly how you make hundreds of millions of dollars with this software bundle.

Maybe if enough of our readers wrote to FunWebProducts and asked them specifically: "Please explain in detail how you make money with these products?" one of them might get an answer. We're still waiting for them to tell us, so we can tell you, if our explanation of how they make money is incorrect.

Further reading? and .

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