Proof that the best of us can be taken: Microsoft Firefox Professional

Following are the comments with some documentation as to the non-authenticity of this site. Thank you, friends for clarifying. I'm sure I'll get some “she's so stupid” posts but I'll leave this up to show how the best of us can be taken.

I literally researched this for an hour and looked at many blogs and other sources to find the veracity of this. Needless to say, I didn't spend enough time on the site to find what the commenters here are saying.

It bothers me greatly that such spoofs even exist and are allowed to continue. I see now that Google Adsense is on the site. And I would say this — shame on Google Adsense for paying a site money on a false identity that obviously is out to scam people. The fact that they would pay will make people have more and more clever sites which means this will only get worse.

I will have to determine how to verify such sites in a better way, but how. Is there a site that mentions website spoofs? Couldn't Google offer a filter to get rid of website spoofs just like spam?

******And now for my tirade that is not correct.******

I train my students to look for new technology, so when one of my students said:

“Cool, Mrs. Vicki, there is a new Microsoft Firefox 2007 Professional. Can I download it?”

I was curious and I always check these things out before allowing any student to download something like this.

So, I went to the website: http://www.msfirefox.com/

I was excited..then my excitement turned to OFFENSE as I saw the screen below.

Then, as I tabbed over, I learned two things:

1) It requires a Pentium Quad Core Processor with 4.6 Ghz (our 6 month old computers will not run)

and

2) Under the fast fun tab, this is why Microsoft Says it should be downloaded:

“Tired of slow image rendering? Microsoft Firefox 2007 can deliver online pornography at blazing fiery speeds…”

Well, you can read the rest for yourself in the graphic I snagged from the site above.

Well, I am incredulous, so I looked up the site to see how many blogs have linked to it on Technorati – over 1,700 links!

I found an article at Redherring that says:


“Mozilla has even been working with its archrival Microsoft to make Firefox compatible with the new Windows Vista operating system.”

So, no, it doesn't look as if Microsoft has bought Firefox, just trying to literally “get in bed with them.” (Pardon the really bad pun)

My protest

As a teacher, I am stunned and appalled by the marketing of this web browser if indeed it is from Microsoft. On the about page of the MS firefox page, it even has a link to the Microsoft educational Foundation.

I know that pornography is a prominent use of the Internet but for Microsoft to campaign for the download of this browser using such offensive language (obviously directed at a female) is offensive to me beyond compare.

It also is at the view of kids everywhere and in my opinion, gives an endorsement of pornography as a valid use of the Internet. The studies I've seen show a correlation between porn use and a decreased satisfaction with a person one is married to. (surprise!?!)

I have used Microsoft Products in my school. I haven't seen Linux or Firefox even tout the effectiveness of their OS or add ons for using porn. It just smacks of bad taste.

Bad play, Microsoft. This teacher would send you to detention if she could!

And if I am wrong, its not intentional — I have researched for an hour and cannot find anything stating that this is not Microsoft. If Alfred Thompson, educational Microsoft blogger extraordinaire, can dig into it and correct me, I will post a correction immediately! Meanwhile, I am disgusted and will continue to complain!

Added at 5:45 pm on the day of the post.

Meanwhile, I must sit back as countless people will post about my failure here to detect a spoof site. Laugh at me if you will, but if I can't tell — how many other people won't be able to either. And how do we create students who won't fall for such? I could take this post down, however, I think there is something to learn here.

And I'm not done with this topic! Not by a long shot!

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19 thoughts on “Proof that the best of us can be taken: Microsoft Firefox Professional

  1. Vicki,

    I’m pretty sure this is a spoof. You can’t actually download anything and the website is full of outlandish claims that can’t possibly be real.

  2. It’s pretty obvious that this is a parody site.

    From their careers page:

    A Global Presence

    We currently have job openings in the following countries:

    * Kuwait
    * Iraq
    * Iran
    * Israel
    * Nigeria
    * North Korea
    * Pakistan
    * Canada

  3. Hi Vicki,

    It’s a really well done scam/parody. The site has been around for a few months, remarkably enough. I do see blogs linking to it, but often with comments teasing the poster for falling for it. I can completely see why someone would fall for it though; I had to read through for a while before I realized it myself.

    Check out this for an example of the debunking:
    http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/window-on-windows/?p=354

    Microsoft may be evil for other reasons, but it’s not actually marketing software by promoting pornography.

  4. It is a spoof site. I know that a good number of people at Microsoft (employees like myself) are not happy about it. A few were also fooled by it as it is very well (from a technical point of view) done. I am not in a position to know if MS legal has taken any action against it though. Typically the Internet (well a lot of people on it anyway) get more upset about people trying to shut down spoof sites than they do about the spoff sites themselves which is one issue. Parody is protected under copyright laws which adds additional complications.
    Feel free to contact me directly if you have more questions. AlfredTh (at) Microsoft.com.

  5. Vicki says:

    It bothers me greatly that such spoofs even exist and are allowed to continue.

    Why?

    a site […] that obviously is out to scam people.

    I don’t understand. What is the scam?

  6. I don’t understand how a site that has Adsense on it is a “scam”. Please explain.

    If one feels that the nature of parody is not clear enough then that is one issue. But even if it isn’t (and arguably in this instance, it is not), having Adsense is not a scam.

    On another note, why do you say that Microsoft has been “defamed” yet make no mention of Firefox? I find it entirely likely that the folks at Microsoft have not nearly the depth of resilience to cutting humor as Firefox developers, but that is beside the point. If you are going to shed tears and cry foul, one may suggest you do so without bias. After all, that little fox wrapped around the “e” is just as much a legal trademark.

  7. if a person is making false claims in order to derive revenue from the unknowing

    If I’m not mistaken, revenue from Adsense is made due to the fact that a visitor is interested in what the ADvertisement claims. So, I’m still not clear as to how you can state that this site is a “scam”.

    It is like the person on the streetcorner selling rolex watches for $20 — false advertising — it is not a rolex — it is a fake.

    Absolutely false. Your analogy is not valid at all. If the site had a download of “MS Firefox” and offered to take your credit card number and charge you money for it, then your analogy would be apt.

    Yes, it could be equally construed that Firefox is defamed, however, it is all about WHO THE SITE CLAIMS TO BE.

    I disagree with this and I’d imagine the law would too. Firefox has clearly been associated with this site. Their trademark is used and the site implies that they endorse and are a part of the site.

    Gnusphere, it seems that perhaps you are eager to justify something which is clearly not right.

    I have not a clue what you are talking about here. In fact, I agree that they are risking a lawsuit (but MS risks poor publicity should they attempt a takedown notice) as the nature of the site is not necessarily evident within the first 5 seconds of perusal. I think the site can and should do a much better and obvious job of its parody. For instance, the copyright notice at the bottom should say “Copyleft 2006 Microsoft Corporation All Rights Reversed”. That’s just one suggestion.

  8. Thank you for correcting my error bud, d’arcy, Christy and 2 anonymous. I usually verify a site by looking at those that link to it. I need to revise my procedures to spend more time on a site. Honestly, I’d never heard of a “parody” site.

    Alfred-
    Yes, I think Microsoft should be upset about it. I literally lists the board of directors under about us. I would say that since it does that it crosses an ethical line from parody to illegal, false representation. I think even on a parody site that the about us should be accurate. It is an ethical thing! So, parody or not, it does not identify itself as a parody, but as fact. If someone illegally represented themselves as me, that is wrong. If they parody me, state its not me, but don’t pretend to be me. That is not parody!

    Gnusphere-
    Yes, they are scamming — it is obviously funded by Google Adsense. It is in every sense a scam because most people, like me, will NOT know it is a parody/scam/scum site, but will indeed think it is real. I believe it defames Microsoft in the worst way, period.

    This site has crossed the line in every sense of the word. period.

  9. A site that has adsense is not necessarily a “scam.” Many great, legitimate sites use adsense.

    However, if a person is making false claims in order to derive revenue from the unknowing — yes, that is a scam/ spoof/ whatever you may want to call it. I do not see how anyone could claim that this site is ethical. If the about us perhaps claimed that they were indeed a parody, yet, it does not, it claims that Bill Gates is their Chairman. False representation, period.

    It is like the person on the streetcorner selling rolex watches for $20 — false advertising — it is not a rolex — it is a fake. yes, most of us have been trained to know it is a fake — but as of yet, when a site such as this appears to be so professionally done, we do not as yet have the savvy to understand the existence of such “parody” sites which I literally had not heard of until yesterday. I count it like the countless spoof e-mails.

    Yes, firefox could also equally be somewhat defamed, however this site clearly claims to BE MICROSOFT not firefox. I see no where that it claims to BE firefox.

    Yes, it could be equally construed that Firefox is defamed, however, it is all about WHO THE SITE CLAIMS TO BE. It claims to be Microsoft who is offering their version of firefox.

    Gnusphere, it seems that perhaps you are eager to justify something which is clearly not right.

    Yes, parody sites can exist. However, they need to at some point claim to be what they are — a parody. Too much is left to the user to “figure out” and the “hints” are too subbtle for the average Internet user to discern.

    I literally thought that Microsoft was advocating pornography as “Fast Fun” that is shameful and offensive. That is what I construed as others probably do as well. This would cause irreparable harm to Microsoft in my opinion for those who come across this site. Most people would just say “bad, bad Microsoft” and move on and never post a blog as I did.

    Whether or not you agree that this is right or wrong or whether you would not be “duped” by such a “obvious” spoof — my viewpoint and opinion is valid as a newcomer looking at this site and the opinions I drew from that as is the viewpoint from my students who also did not know it was a “parody.”

  10. Firstly, gnusphere, I find that this comment thread is taking an argumentative tone.

    I think we both seem to be agreeing that perhaps the site is not doing things correctly. I seem to think perhaps we are disagreeing on a semantic issue of whether this site is a “scam” or not. I feel that although a person may be interested in firefox for microsoft windows xp, they are indeed getting a place where you can’t download anything and thus wasting their time. It is akin to spam and spoofs and all sorts of time wasters that are proliferating our inboxes and web browsers. It is tough to get things done as it is.

    I do not disagree that Firefox should be bothered by this, indeed they should. It is my opinion that Microsoft is wronged more, but that is just my opinion and I present it as that, not as a legal advisor, but rather anecdotal evidence of my own viewpoint.

    I’m glad that you’ve discussed this on the blog. I talked with Alfred Thompson today, a microsoft educational blogger that I respect and he and I both think that leaving the post up is helpful if only for the comments. I appreciate your perspective and think you have added value to an ethical case study that I’ll be sharing in the future. Thank you for commenting. There is certainly value in the conversation.

  11. It’s obviously a spoof site. Regardless of if you like the content of the humor or not, the site is still protected speech, and hilarious at that!

    Vicki, it’s bad that you feel wronged by this, but lets face it, that is the whole point of a spoof. People are suppose to relate the experience to something else and find humor in the differences between the real product.

    An example of a difference here is that the page claims Microsoft can product a product that works, that alone should be a warning flag of a spoof site!

    If by reading the content of that site you didn’t realize it was a spoof then I suppose the real problem is between your desk and the back of your chair.

  12. Tgpo-
    Thank you for your most kind remarks.

    None of us are perfect and usually, the mercy we show others is the mercy we receive ourselves when we invariably screw up. Remember the mercy you have shown here next time you make a human mistake.

    I have learned that the mistake I made here is in not spending enough time on the site itself and rather, researching its validity by the links and authenticity. I honestly had never heard of a parody website and the thought never even crossed my mind.

    Perhaps the wise and seasoned like you know more than I, but then again, not a day goes by that I don’t feel more and more like a beginner.

    It is a whole new world out here and more and more non-geek types who simply “won’t get” something like the Microsoft firefox website spoof are coming on board.

    We will continue to have a difference of opinion on this one. Perhaps it is protected free speech, but that doesn’t mean its ethical.

  13. I think there’s a couple of important things to point out here. 1) None of us knows everything. Vicki is a respected and knowledgable member of the educational technology community and she fell for this site. If any of a number of things had been slightly different, it might have been one of us who fell for the joke and Vicki who caught it.

    2) There’s a bit of a generational gap here. Recently, with the Aqua Teen Hunger Force advertising campaign/bomb scare in Boston, one of the things mentioned was that younger people didn’t see a problem with the devices because they recognized it for what it was. Other members of the community did not. This website strikes me as the same thing, both in the way it happened and the reaction it received. As I clicked through the site, comments like this one “”LOL, Microsoft Firefox is the merging of unsurpassed technologies, and will effectively trash all its competitors, LMAO!” – Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal'” made it obvious TO ME that it was a joke. However, that might not have given it away to everyone. And, as Vicki noted, she verified more with other sources and less by looking at the site. I’m sure this is a teachable moment for her and that she’ll change her method of content verification.

    3) I disagree with holding Google in disregard for the allowing of Ad Words use on the page. The site is funny to me. I think the creators deserve the right to make money from their creatvity, just like other artists. I think the real debatable issue here is whether or not there needs to be some type of disclaimer stating that this is a parody. If you flip channels and end up on Saturday Night Live and don’t realize it, couldn’t you possibly mistake one of their fake press conferences for the real thing? They’re not required to have a disclaimer. You need to have cultural knowledge about what SNL is in order to understand what’s going on, and you need to watch long enough to determine the program you’re seeing.

    Vicki, I’m sorry that you got faked out by this site. I’m glad you’ve left the post up though, as I think this is a great piece of proof in what we all have left to learn, how we treat other forms of media vs. the web, and what the real definition of information/cultural literacy means.

  14. The fact that Vicki is among many who were fooled by the site is not a comment on her intellect or her savvy. As Vicki has pointed out, it is more a confirmation that we all need to be skeptics when it comes to content on the Web.

    I would also add that just because people are being fooled by the site does not mean that the site owners have malicious intentions. I see this as an example of viral marketing. The owners of the site developed a site that they hoped would become the talking point by many bloggers and water-cooler conversationalist. What is the difference between this site and the likes of the Lonely Girl 15 videos or the Million Dollar Homepage? All have the common goal of getting noticed.

  15. Vicki, my class vision this year developed with my class of 10 and 11 year olds states that “we will be allowed to make mistakes and learn from them”. If kids that age can get it right, why can’t the commenters who want to point out your errors be as wise?

  16. Vicki, thanks for sharing a joke in progress. It takes courage to show you’ve been had.
    And, while you laugh with the rest of us, you have proven a point:
    we should learn children to see what is real. Because we can’t trust our eyes anymore.

  17. Vicki, thanks for leaving your “spoof moment” post up. I’m jumping in late, here, having just discovered your blog. Misinformation, parodies,and hate sites are things we need to teach our kids about, too. I tried looking up the web address that fooled you on a WhoIs search (I used http://www.networksolutions.com/whois/index.jsp’ defer onload=’ ) and they appear to be hiding behind a privacy company screen, which doesn’t fit with microsoft being the real owners but isn’t very conclusive, either.
    I have several iterations of website evaluation lessons and links to real/fake webpages to test out with my kids. I bookmarked several that I use with my students: http://del.icio.us/bookwyrmish/WebsiteEvaluation I tell them that that “gotcha” moment feels nasty, no matter how old you get!

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