While it appears that most publishers understand the serious negative implications that the technique of framing incurs (and hopefully they all add frame breaking script to their websites), most Digg and Facebook users do not. What is of the utmost importance to users is the usability of a product/service. Thus, in an attempt to explain the effect that frames have on browser/website usability, I submit this single image to the Digg and Facebook community as well as all Web users to ask one simple question:

Do you like being spammed?

If your answer to the question above is absolutely no, please Digg, Stumble, Twitter, email, and share this any possible way you can with every potential friend you know to help educate them, bring attention to this problem, and stop these “frame spammers” from hijacking the Web from you, the user. Otherwise it’s likely you may see even further abuse by these frame spammers such as the launching of annoying popup ads from their frame sets as well.

The image above displays four different frames from four different frame owners (Digg, Facebook, HootSuite, Krumlr) which are applied to another website when you click on a link that’s been created or re-shortened by anyone of those companies. Using the increasing popularity of Twitter and the need for shorter links, these companies are attempting to use this ploy to implement their frame spam. As some may know however, frames are not at all necessary to create shortened URLs. These companies are using a framing script to superimpose their content into your browser without your request and permission to do so. Essentially they are spamming you!

After pointing out how Digg and Facebook are stealing content, traffic, and revenue from publishers by framing their websites I expected to receive very little support from others, let alone from some of Digg’s own users. Fortunately, there has been quite a few big publishers (New York Times now blocking frames) and bloggers that have picked up on the story and joined the fight.

Yesterday SearchEngineJournal and PlagiarismToday posted articles condemning offenders such as Digg, Facebook, Krumlr, and HootSuite for the use of such framing techniques to artificially inflate their traffic. Given the potential legal ramifications, and their propensity as appealing lucrative targets, it’s really surprising to me that such prominent sites like Facebook and Digg would behave this way. As of today, they have not been cited in any lawsuits pertaining to this matter but it is my hope that someone will take offense to this and file soon.

Digg and Facebook are clearly more concerned over their bottom line than adhering to any such legal or ethical standards. Taking such great risks has me wondering if they are perhaps experiencing great financial strain. Sure they have lots of funding and their valuations have been speculated to be in the hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars. However, with the given state of the economy and less funding available, combined with the lack of a profitable business model, and the inability to close an acquirement deal, perhaps desperate times call for desperate measures. I know that sounds absolutely crazy in the face of the incredible amounts of traffic that both command but what other reason could there be?

Regardless of their reasons, the longer Digg and Facebook are allowed to employ the use of iframes to effectively hijack websites, the more difficult it will be to prevent others from doing the same. Soon the Web will be nothing but a conglomeration of frames within frames within frames (see image above). Clearly, both Facebook and Digg are largely influenced by their users, and what their users want they usually get. Take for example when Digg’s users overpowered their beloved Kevin Rose on May 1, 2007 to spread the encryption key for DRM protected Blu-ray and HD DVD discs or when users, not Mark Zuckerberg or management, recently began dictating which design should be used on Facebook.

Members of such large online communities such as Digg and Facebook also have a great influence on the Web itself. I hope by reading this article you, the Web user, understands the negative impact the use of frames can have not only the Web in general, but also in the way it affects you personally. That is, by infringing upon your browser’s usability and your intent to simply navigate/view the Web without be solicited by annoying frames.

It’s very likely that frame spam is just the beginning and there may very well be an attempt to serve you aggressive popup ads through those frames at a later time. If this is something you look forward to, by all means do nothing. On the other hand, if you like your privacy and don’t want someone frame spamming you, I encourage you to insert the script below into your own website (placing it between the < head > and < / head > tags) and help us educate the public by sharing this article with your friends using the buttons listed at the bottom of this article. With your help we can get this message out, bring this issue to the forefront for these new generation spammers, and hold them accountable for their actions.


<script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">
if (top.location != self.location) top.location.replace(self.location);
</script>

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