Code for Killing Google AutoLink [updated]

96 comments
Thread Title:
Confirmation: Google's AutoLink created by Smart Tag Inventor
Thread Description:

The following downloads will stop the Google Autolink functionality. They will stop the Google Toolbar from altering your webpages and placing links to it's chosen partners.

Javascript Solutions

Thanks to Chris and Gurtie at Search Guild you can insert this script according to the instructions on your webpages to stop the Google Autolink functionality.

  • Autoblink download
    05/03 original javascript now updated to encorporate speed enhancement and option to rewrite Google links to include your own Amazon affiliate number rather than break them.
  • Autoblink Plus Disables the dropdown on the toolbar also - first version is recommended.

Server Side Solutions

Thanks to JasonD of Strange Logic you can also kill the Autolink functionality with both a Perl and PHP solution and thanks to ChrisGarrett and Edition3 for the ASP solutions.

Other Solutions

Thanks to spiderfood and Brad for the find!

If you develop further solutions, please email me at <nick -at- threadwatch.org> or if you're a member, use the private msg system here and i will update the page with new and updated code accordingly.

Thanks!

Comments

instincts -v- practicality

The code to detect it is here (can't post it because it thinks I'm trying to do something nasty to Threadwatch :) )

when the new toolbar prevents a pop up opening it opens a nice little window explaining what's happened. I tend to think that's the best thing to do - detect the toolbar, open a popup explaining what's happening and include the e-mail address to complain to and then let users continue.

Although a big part of me wants to detect it, run something to uninstall the toolbar and auto send an e-mail to google saying "yah boo sucks".

Can't believe this

I am stunned they have done this. Whatever next?

Slimey toads.

Nothing comes through server side

I can't see anything on the server side (user agent), anyone know how to detect it at the server?

chris you can't

is the simple answer, the browser dosen't show a UA with toolbar ...

best stick with the javascript

DaveN

at least M$ had the sense ...

meta name="MSSmartTagsPreventParsing" content="TRUE"

could we have :

meta name="GoogleAutolinkPreventParsing" content="TRUE" that would put an end to it :)

DaveN

we shouldn't have to though....

anyone who doesn't run off includes is going to have a lot of work to add that

If it were opt in then I wouldn't have a problem (I can think of some sites where clients would actually like the address thing, or would do it if they were ppc)

90% of people wouldn't

The majority of sites out there are either left unattended or run by people who wouldnt know how :O(

> I can't see anything on the

> I can't see anything on the server side (user agent), anyone know how to detect it at the server?

The toolbar is not interacting with your server - it's all done client side, so you'll never be able to detect it there :)

Just a thought

Often things will identify in the user agent, would have been nice :O/

it's like any spyware

once a toolbar is installed on a client system the toolbar has control over that PC ... end of story..

the link is placed in the browser cache so to speak so you can't even trap exit traffic... just like gator and all the scumware out there

DaveN

We can adapt that so that it

We can adapt that so that it the code can be used and deployed server side.

We could probably even detect what triggers the actual rewrites. If we can we can almost definately stop them.

Does anyone have this version of the toolbar installed and can give me an example URL that rewrites the page?

I'll go and download it now on a test machine.

Wow! This has come a long way

Wow! This has come a long way since my original comment.

>once a toolbar is installed on a client system the toolbar has control over that PC ... end of story

Maybe we need to develop a (what would be called) Spyware program that installs itself via java/activeX and that inteferes with the Toolbar. What would be the legality of something like that? Would the antispyware lobby concede that this isn't malware but a legitimate protection device?

Even better, could they be persuaded that they need to add the Google toolbar to their malware database - like Alexa?

How to test it?

What does this autolink feature do exacly?
I must be missing something. All i see is the autolink button on the toolbar change to say “show book info”. But have seen posts about Google changing peoples content, how do i get it to do that, or are people talking about where this autolink feature might lead?

If you want to see it in action just search for “ISBN: 0375758119” on any site which tells you what you searched for.

BBC

So, tick tock, tick tock, how long before we see a retraction of this "feature" eh? BBC on AutoLink

Surely it has to be illegal right?

lol

Chris just did a nice temporary fix

(Nick this not being able to paste code thing is a real pain)

I know

I'll try and get something done but i wouldnt hold your breath :)

I changed the link to point directly to the code by the way, but isn't that the same as we've pasted into the first post in this thread?

Just with knobs on?

tick tock, tick tock

Agreed, seems like making the BBC would make anyone's marketing VP rethink a scheme (I'll let you decide whether to use the US or UK definition of scheme.)

Man, we sure are getting complacent as watchdogs. Where are the webmaster riots in the street that MS faced on much the same issue? Everybody bought the 'do no evil' song-n-dance, eh?

but they're good knobs Nick

much more impressive than the other one (for starters it only works if someone presses the button).

It is amazing how people aren't really getting this isn't it? Google have a duty to shareholders to make profits. This is so easy to make profits with. The chances of them not using it to make profits are very low indeed.

So I'm a space cadet....

If I'm understanding this right, I have to put that code into the head of every page I publish? Or I have to set up an include to insert it automatically?

Ack. *sigh*

>aren't really getting this i

>aren't really getting this isn't it?

I'm seeing more mass-denial than just not getting it ....more like, "Yeah, if it was anybody ELSE it'd be scumware, but this is Google so it's going to be fine."

Quote:
"I believe it is peace for our time... Go home and get a nice quiet sleep." -Neville Chamberlain

consumer info

Is there a common resource or piece of text we have that describes this so John Q. Public can understand it?

Knobs

I cant bring myself to post the 2 or three responses on the theme of knobs for fear of going way to far - i'll just leave it to your imagination heh.. :)

Knobs it is then, thanks Gurtie!

yeah - the knob gags are just too easy....

pretty much a summation is;

Quote:
Google has implimented an opt-in feature on a toolbar which only works in limited circumstances; US addresses, ISBN numbers, US registration plates, shipping tracking numbers which adds links to a webpage from those details to a third party site of Googles choice.

At present these links are non commercial (G makes no profit from them although some do go to commercial sites) and when the toolbar launches properly in April G say that rather than monetize it they may add to the number of sites you can choose to go to (eg; a choice of several booksellers sites rather than just Amazon)

The major worry is that the principal could easily be expanded to cover any words or phrases and that the option could be set to default rather than opt in.

The secondary worries are that this could open the floodgates to others and the principal of using our content without either permission or payment.

The bit that really pissed me off on Friday was

Quote:
So the toolbar definately doesn't overwrite links already on your page and it also (obviously) doesn't do anything to your actual html code. HOWEVER - if you use the 'show book link' dropdown menu which lists all ISBN numbers on the page the ones already linked to internal pages are linked to Amazon from that list. The Toolbar is using the contents of my page to generate a list of links to elsewhere.

now I'm just wound up because Google aren't replying to e-mails or answering questions (still have a list over at SG, GG, if you're feeling like answering them?) and seem to be relying on general apathy to let this sneak past people.

At the moment this only effects tiny client for me - the day they start linking flight numbers to some bucket shop or cities to lists of hotels I don't even want to think about....

Peace in our time

I like RC's analogy. Funnily enough Chamberlain was still Prime Minister at the outbreak of war. In his outbreak of war speech to the British Parliament he said

Quote:
Now that all the relevant documents are being made public we shall stand at the bar of history knowing that the responsibility for this terrible catastrophe lies on the shoulders of one man - the German Chancellor, who has not hesitated to plunge the world into misery in order to serve his own senseless ambitions.

Its not WW2, but G do appear to want to plunge the world into misery to serve their own ambitions.

Updated

I've just updated the original post in this thread - you can now download a nice script by chris at SG that turns the AutoLink written urls back to what they were supposed to be - UNLINKED text :)

Nice!

Glad to see a workaround has been created so quickly. Super stuff :)

Killing Google's Auto Link

Earlier I posted about Google's new toolbar using our own content to whisk our visitors away from our sites and drive the traffic to their own 'features':

Now Google's Messing With Our Content

Well here's the good news - a fix has been found over...

He he, signing up to be able

He he, signing up to be able to post was certainly worth it :-)

Thanks to Chris and Gurtie. Expect some links to SG in due course.

thanks to Chris...

I'm a programming numpty I'm afraid :(

Now if SG mysteriously looses all rankings in Google I'm expecting a bit of backup from you guys!

Plus any server side script would still be useful for anyone who has to add it to every page by hand.....

Needs tweaking

Some of the auto links are still rewritten

http://www.wolf-howl.com/autolink-test.html

Updated

Yeah, and it didnt work anywhere in the html, it had to go at the end. It's updated now and will work anywhere, so let us know how it's working...

I'll take Chris' stirling wor

I'll take Chris' stirling work and carry the mantle into making it deliverable server side with a little tweak here and there to make deployment slightly simpler for most.

DaveN and I spent a fair bit of time on the phone and IM playing around with the toolbar and doing some basic analysis of it. We came up with some very naughty thoughts indeed.

Thanks Google for making us think outside of the box :D

I must say though that Chris saved me a challenge and a half as I was thinking of undertaking a javascript rewrite on any anchor tags that went to the horrible tbproxy URL. I hadn't even noticed (Sometimes, you can't see the wood for the trees) that each of them had a nice handy ID that could be used!!

P.S. Gurtie, Could you ask Chris to give me a call as emails seem to be missing him? - Thanks:)

graywolf - it's a timing issu

graywolf - it's a timing issue (the toolbar actually makes at least two passes to link ISBN numbers that I hadn't noticed). It's fixed with the latest version on SG

JasonD - Timezone is a problem. Email is chris.ridings at gmail.com

Chris

I just updated, we have the latest here now right?

Close (sorry Nick :) ). The f

Close (sorry Nick :) ). The first line where it says this:

linkcount=countlinks();

is deleted in the latest one to fix the issues graywolf's pointed out.

Up to date

think we must be okay then, the first line of code i have is var linkcount;

?

I think you need to get the l

I think you need to get the latest one (sorry). It is ever so slightly different.

OK, done

From this page right? sg thread

works for me

Yea that seems to do the trick.

Yes, or you can just link in

Yes, or you can just link in to http://www.searchguild.com/autoblink.js if you want to save yourself having to update every time I tweak something.

It said that you wanted to save bandwidth?

So i assumed that's what you wanted heh! Which is why i posted it here....

Yeh, I do. I'm just feeling g

Yeh, I do. I'm just feeling guilty about the amount of times you've had to copy it :)

Well,

I'll change the link - let me know when it's stable and if you'd like me to put it back up again here ok chris?

I think it's important people get this - and that they understand why you, (and to far lesser degree me) and everyone here feels this is BAD

In yer basket google!

hmm...

is it possible for Google to detect people using this script and remove them from the Goog index? or am i just too paranoid? ;)

> is it possible for Google t

> is it possible for Google to detect people using this script and remove them from the Goog index? or am i just too paranoid? ;)

Yes, unless you cloak Google it will be very easy for them to detect this script - it is downloaded with the HTML/page. Will they penalize for the use of it? Only time will tell :) But, I would definately change the script - rename variables and such, before I installed the above version (basically remove all footprints you can) - just to be safe :)

It's definately possible but

It's definately possible but I also think it is unlikely they'll act upon it.

Having said that I thought it unlikely Google would ever launch something like Auto Link

What about including a simpl

What about including a simple "cloak" in the script - detect for Googlebot agent name and exclude the printout of the script?

I am so bad with JavaScript but it should be possible to add quite simple ... Anyone?

Remote File

It works if you move it to a remote file, you could put the file in an isolated directory and block it in your robots.txt

GG gets the gag order from the bosses huh?

Funny how GG doesn't post on this thread, but he has no problem posting on the link tool thread. Hmmmm..............

How much bandwidth do you think you need?

I've got some to spare various places....

Thanks vkaryl

but we've got lots - I think Chris is trying to spare me the conversation with my business partner if the entire world starts using the file off the SG servers ("well I know I said it was only a forums but we decided to launch into hosting anti-scumware.... no, no, only half the SEO community....really? peaked at how much?....")

I think until Chris is happy with the code feel free to use http://www.searchguild.com/autoblink.js and once the final version is available we'd appreciate everyone taking their own copy.

I cannot believe no one from Google is reading this - so if you are GG, please have a conversation here - Google aren't answering our e-mails, addressing any concerns and clearly aren't looking for feedback.... if this isn't important to future financial plans then what's the big deal with wthdrawing it or offering an opt in? The longer Google ignores us the more suspicious your motives look....

It's a bit

disconcerting that GG can so quickly throw the blanket on our fire of something great like the link tool but can't find the corporate wherewithal to interact with us on this issue.

empowering

It's a bit disconcerting that GG can so quickly throw the blanket on our fire of something great like the link tool

or empowering when we work together, share and solve a problem.

Get real

Why on earth would GG get involved in this discussion. He dosn't come around because he loves us but because it's part of a corprate strategy and as such make a fine judgement in NOT taking part of this discussion. Why should he? What do you possibly expect he could say that would make you happy? ... "Yes, we will drop those evil links" Nahh, if Google announce that it won't be here. Get real, please :)

of course it won't

but there's no harm in making the point surely?

Okay. Tweaked and tested. Con

Okay. Tweaked and tested. Consider that the final version.

On the previously closed topic

It looks like the claim that Jeff Reynar created the AutoLink feature has been retracted: http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2005/02/22.html#a9457

could google override?

Chris, could Google override this down the line? And if so, I assume further changes could go back at it? And is there a home describing the code at Search Guild I can point at. I'll mention this thread here, but I think it would be useful if the script had a proper home page of its own everyone could point at, as well.

Danny

There is a thread at SG here - no "home" other than that as far as i know - I know Chris wanted to save on the bandwidth, but maybe he'll build a home for it if you're going to write about it?

It might be a little late for new homes - the blogosphere has run wild with this url but i can always point the download link to it if you change your mind Chris...

thanks nick

I'll point to this thread no matter what (for my story out tomorrow), but I do think it would be good if the page had a proper home. I suspect there may be some updates. It would be nice to have a page with some clear instructions for newbies coming in and wanting to use the script. You've got some good stuff at the top, but it's always nice to really have things s-p-e-l-l-e-d out.

By the way, the script isn't working on my end. Maybe just me, dunno. But my toolbar is working a bit differently than it did when I first installed, making me wonder if I've been somehow updated. I'm 3.0.119.6-big/end. Everyone else like that?

How long

would it take to knock up a quick site Chris? an hour?

  • AutoLinkScript.com - is free...

Sometimes, trackback can be useful

I suppose this is one of those times. There's not enough trackback in this thread to emphasise the importance of this whole palaver. Rather than start new threads or blog posts on it, I shall just keep it all in here.

The Big Zeldman on AutoLink, and in response to the ordeal, Phil Ringalda on protecting your browser from anti-autolink js. The latter is basically stupid, but it is an argument against the code, so I'm avoiding being bias ;o)

Yeah

The trackback is turned on though...

Ringnalda called everyone in here:

Quote:
sheep ranchers (sites which funnel in searchers who will click on any search result, however unlikely, and can then be pushed out through an affiliate link) and mushroom farmers (sites whose only chance of a sale is keeping their customer in the dark about any alternative, helped along with a hefty feeding of bullshit)

What an arse. Some of the best web folk in the world are in here IMO...

Metafilter

You can add MetaFilter to that aswell ET - and see the technoratis stuff here

new site?

it won't be earthshattering but assuming Chris is around for an hour this morning we'll do something

Agreed, Gurtie and I'll set u

Agreed, Gurtie and I'll set up a proper page/place for it.

Here you go (didn't think it

Here you go (didn't think it needed a seperate domain so I just set up a page about it):

http://www.searchguild.com/autoblink/

Final work being done on a se

Final work being done on a server side solution in both Perl and PHP as we speak.

I've also been thinking that with enough of us working together we can use similar principles to defeat the changes (I don't think it will work on all) other types of SpyWare inflict.

How are you detecting it?

I will convert to asp and asp.net

Server Wide Solutions

PHP site wide answer
and
Perl site wide answer

Thanks for undertaking the asp and asp.net Chris :)

We are detecting it based on object ID and what I would love to see happening is working with others, especially Andrew Clover in detecting scumware and putting stuff back to how the website owner intended prior to it being altered via the scumware.

I know it won't work on every piece of scumware out there but if we can get the majority!!

I'll be working on this at a newly regged domain (I won't plug it here) and am looking to those with lots of spare research time to joing me on the project :)

updated

updated the original post, thanks Jason!

If anyone makes more solutions, please add them in the thread here, and i'll add them to the page!

erm...with scripted pages why not

TW doesn't let me posted examples. However if you keep the js in an external file then making it work sitewide on a scripted site is as simple as writing out the javascript to link to the external script (i.e. print or echo it). One line in practically any language.

The classic asp one is done

Who wants to host it?

ChrisR got to agree

It's probably as easy to include the JS as it is the php/asp/whatever but converting the asp.net to a server control now and the classic asp version of the autolink killer is here unless Jason or Nick want to host it
http://www.realworldasp.net/article.asp?article=162

Scratch that

The code to include the JS with a control is more of a pain than just adding the JS to your templates head using src= so not bothering with asp.net version.

If you do want to add it in a base page class or whatever you can just use Page.RegisterStartupScript(key,script)

dam

top tip : never bet :) i lost £3 on this project ;)

DaveN

leave the stuff at Dunkirk boys

:)

DougS

And I am very happy to take y

And I am very happy to take your hard earnt cash Dave! Please hold onto tight to those 3 shiny sovereigns, I'll pick them up from you at Stansted if we don't get together before :)

"We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender,"

and don't forget the little spoken about whisper that was said to a colleague whilst rapturous applause was all you could hear in the House of Commons, "And we’ll fight them with the butt ends of broken beer bottles because that’s bloody well all we’ve got!"

Site wide

Chris, I've updated the post to take out "site wide" from the server side script links - it does rather imply that the JS solution is not up to par... when in fact, it's almost certainly the easiest to implement heh...

Secured Sockets Layer solution

Hi

I have done some testing in Denmark in library databases - it's seems like if you use SSL it's disable Google's AutoLink feature on ISBN
I have some screendumps here with examples
http://www.ae35-unit.dk/plugin/googletoolbarssl.html (sorry for my english on that page)
Maybe some of you also could do testing with SSL, to see if this is also a 100 % good solution

cheers
Soren

Vilkommen til Threadwatch AE35

præsenter dig selv her :)

I dont speak much Danish, and the board is english only but hey, im in lolland so i get to practice on you a bit heh..

I dont think https'ing pages will be a way forward as 1)i dont thing G spider https pages normally do they? and 2) it's not a solution everyone could implement - thought it's certainly worthy of mention, so thanks for that...

An ASP.NET server control solution

While I agree with Chris that ASP.NET offers better solutions, I nonetheless took this as an exercise to create an ASP.NET server control. ASP.NET developers seem to like having things packaged up as server controls.

Here is the link to the page introducing the control:
AutoBlink : Free ASP.NET server control

Here is a direct link to the downloadable zip, so that you may include it in your list of Server Side Solutions:
http://www.edition3.com/files/AutoBlink.zip

Google DO index https :)

- as far as I can tell, over 50 million so far ...

Do a search for inurl:https - and you'll see

I have had quite a few problems with this on large dynamic sites when webmasters don't implement full URLs, so once you get to a SSL page all links from there are SSL and Google starts crawling them too - and then we have the duplicate problem. I've seen this more than once!

https

Yes, i knew there were at least "some difficulties" to overcome but certainly wasn't clear on the details - thanks Mikkel!

SomeNewKid, welcome to TW! do introduce yourself here and i'll pop that link up on the main post now - thanks...

Stop Google's AutoLink

Google's latest brain-wave in its journey towards world domination, is a curious new feature in their latest toolbar called AutoLink.

If you can cast your memory back to 2001 you will remember the controversy surrounding Microsoft's Smart Tags and t...

Online Petition

Time Magazine have picked the story up and say

Quote:
Mayer says Google is unlikely to remove AutoLink but the ultimate decision will be based on public feedback over the next few months

and on the subject of feedback there's now an online petition which you may like to sign.

Updated

Just put another JS solution into the original post...

Google AutoLink and Terms of use of websites

Webmasters should clearly add to the terms of use of their websites a legal deterrent, explaining to Google or any other company, what webmasters would consider abuse of their website, around the following lines for example...

"You, or a third party who has software installed on your computer, may not modify the materials of this Site in any way whatsoever, may not in any way add or modify outbound hyperlinks, or modify or add any code or any functionality to the pages or to the content of this Site."

Code for Killing Google AutoLink Javascript or PHP...

I have first tested the PHP script Code for Killing Google AutoLink at http://www.strangelogic.co.uk/de-google-php.zip and I experienced problems with GoogleAdsense not working well ( Google ads kept flashing on and off continuously). I have then tested the JavaScript script Autoblink download http://www.searchguild.com/autoblink/ and GoogleAdsense seems to work normally.

rg. They work in different wa

rg. They work in different ways. I'll look into it and get back to you ASAP , possibly with version2 if there is a bug :)

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