Guest Post Surveillance Spam

By John Honovich, Published Oct 04, 2013, 12:00am EDT

Emily Harper is scum.

Now, in fairness, this 'Emily Harper' almost certainly does not exist. However, someone claiming to be Emily Harper, stealing another person's photo, is very 'real', representing the underbelly of the Internet age.

Recently, Emily Harper contacted me, introducing herself:

"I am Emily Harper, and I am an active member of our neighborhood watch. I'm passionate about empowering families and the community on ensuring safety by investing in home security technology."

She then explained how she wanted to do a guest post on IPVM. Here is her submission. The article appears to be original, though trite, while misunderstanding and overstating the impact of surveillance.

Now, why does this self professed middle aged housewife want to write for IPVM?

The key turns out to be in one seemingly innocuous phrase tucked into the end of the 5th paragraph where she mentions, "cameras that can be installed almost everywhere." The article only has a few links, the others to general information/government sites. But this link goes to AlarmSystemStore, specifically their surveillance camera section

Who is AlarmSystem Store? As their cartoon logo demonstrates, they are a crappy little online security store.

And what surveillance cameras do they sell? The crappiest cameras on the market - Foscam at 33% to 50% more than Amazon.

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So we have a mysterious housewife who wants to guest blog on IPVM with a post that links back to a crappy little surveillance retailer?

When I asked Emily if I could remove it, she objected, explaining that, "The link you're talking about, I added it to give weight to the fact technology gives us a wide array of cameras that can be used for almost every purpose." When I asked if she was being paid by them, she denied it, saying that "As a writer, I always want to credit sources that give value to my work."

Who is Emily Harper?

Emily Harper has her own twitter account and started to follow us on Twitter. At that time, here is what her page looked like:

I ran her twitter profile picture through Google image search and one match was returned, from the website of Kimberly Gadette. See excerpt below:

Now, Kimberly Gadette is a writer originally from LA. Is Kimberly, in fact, Emily?

I emailed Kimberly, and she immediately and categorically denied it. I also emailed 'Emily' with this but she did not respond. The next day the photo was removed from Emily Harper's twitter account.

Indeed, Kimberly Gadette's attorney has forwarded a cease and desist letter sent to 'Emily Harper'.

What's Going On Here?

Like the crappy link buying we exposed, this is another technique search engine spammers use to screw up search results for all of us. The article is simply bait to get a legitimate site to add a link to the crappy site. That link will then raise the crappy site in Google's rankings.

That said, do not expect Google to save us from these tactics. They are too busy designing their own 'enhancements' to get businesses to buy more Google ads.

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