Barbara Discovers Why FunWebProducts are No Fun At All
I suddenly have something on my computer that I don't know where it came from.  It's in the toolbar of the Internet Explorer.  Cursor Mania and Smiley Central.  I suspicion that they are spam related.  I think I read that it is not good to have smiley central.  Help me.  I don't know how to get rid of it. Thanks for your site.  I've be receiving your letter from  the very beginning and I love it. I read it as soon as it comes, save every issue and refer back to the former letters from time to time.

Answer
To answer your question quickly - you should install Spyware Doctor right now and let it scan your system and see what it finds. You should buy the full version of Spyware Doctor and keep it up-to-date -to remove SmileyCentral and the rest of the NoFunWebProducts bundle - and to help you keep from being infected by other spyware, adware, hijackers and badware lurking on the Web. And as we've always said, one anti-spyware program is not enough. You should have two. For your secondary anti-spyware program we recommend "Spybot Search and Destroy" available free from http://www.safernetworking.org/ .

Now let's discuss your problem and what exactly is installed on your computer. Not only do you have SmileyCentral and Cursor Mania but you have all the other programs that are included with the FunWebProducts bundle. You have, among other thing "MyWebSearch" also known as MySearch and MyTotalSearch - and perhaps several other names by now, which is a search engine hijacker and a potential home page hijacker. This bundle is not easy to get rid of. There are currently twelve to fourteen programs included with this bundle - all of which start with Windows; all of which use up your computer's resources unnecessarily; all of which require you to leave the MySearch (etc) search assistant installed or the other programs will not function. This is how they make you pay for whatever software you downloaded from them. If you download "SmileyCentral" you get the other 12 or 13 applications including the hijacker - you have no choice. So even though you only downloaded SmileyCentral, you get (and this is taken right from FunWebProduct's own, so-called "Plain English Eula"):

"By agreeing to this contract, software with the following features will be installed onto your computer:

SEARCH BOX: This is a toolbar that will help you search the Internet using various search engines.

SEARCH ASSISTANT: This provides relevant links and results when your search request or browser address request is misspelled or incorrectly formatted.

SMILEY CENTRAL: This allows you to insert smiley faces and other graphics into your e-mail and instant messages.

CURSOR MANIA: This allows you to change the look of your mouse cursor.

FUN BUDDY ICONS: This allows you to add icons to instant message clients.

HISTORY SWATTER: This allows you to delete easily computer cookies, URL history, temporary cache, and other stored browser files.

MY FUN CARDS: This provides access to free electronic greeting cards that you can personalize on the Web and send to any email address.

MY INFO: This provides instant access to the latest local weather, stock prices, sports scores and news headlines.

MY MAIL NOTIFIER: This allows you to use animated characters to alert you to new web mail messages.

MY MAIL SIGNATURE: This allows you to create signature designs for outgoing email messages.

MY MAIL STAMP: This allows you to insert digital stamp designs into outgoing email messages.

MY MAIL STATIONERY: This provides you with background images, colors and themes to enhance the look of outgoing email messages.

POPULAR SCREENSAVERS: This provides you with photos and images to use as a screensaver or wallpaper on your computer.

SMOTOS: This enables you to post, share, download and store images.

In addition, an Easy Installer will be downloaded to install this software. It does not install any other software and is automatically deleted the first time you turn off your computer after installation of the above-described products. "

You notice that they say the do not install any other software and make it seem like these 14 applications are not programs at all - just one program with all these "features". This is not true. Most of these are separate applications that automatically run at Windows start up. And guess what else? You get any new software this company puts together automatically - because you agree to allow them to install "updates" automatically (without your specific permission or knowledge). So you start off with 14 and after a few weeks it might be 15 then 16 - there's no end to it until your computer collapses under the weight of all these programs starting up with Windows.

You can remove each of these programs individually but there's a good chance you won't be able to easily get rid of the search assistance. That's the part that generates huge revenues for IAC (the parent of FunWebProducts). By hijacking and manipulating your search results - and it doesn't matter which search engine you choose - Google, Yahoo, MSN - this search assistant injects advertising into the search results which look very much like search results themselves. They're hoping to trick you into clicking on these look-alike search results because they get paid anywhere from  one to as much as fifty cents (or more) from you accidental click. This is deceiving you and the advertisers who are paying for real clicks. They make money by deception - but nonetheless they have millions of users. Why? Because the mindset of the average Internet user is that everything on the 'Net should be free and whatever is free is really free. Our readers know this is not true - and this is not to say that there are not some very good and really free programs available -SmileyCentral and FunWebProducts just don't include any of them.

For further reading and information about FunWebProducts / SmileyCentral - see the pages below:

http://thundercloud.net/infoave/answers/nofunwebproducts.htm

http://thundercloud.net/infoave/askjeeves-rant.htm


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