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Betrayal of Trust is SiteMeter.com Planting 3rd Party Cookie?

Posted by todd at 8:14 PM on April 2, 2007

All Geek News Central readers are encouraged to clear any cookies that may be associated with this site. Details on why this action needs to be taken is listed below. As a word of caution, significant numbers of websites use the SiteMeter stats tracker service, thus you may have more than one instance of the “specificclick cookie” in your cookie list.

Let me state straight up.  It is the policy of this website to NEVER share info about it’s visitors to anyone outside of this sites management. We take any breach of trust by service providers very seriously.

Let me state for the record that I am as mad as any one person can possibly be at the moment. I have an inquiry  to management at SiteMeter.com, but I am doubting they are going to respond as it appears their website blog has went dark since this has broken.

Up till about a hour ago I was a paying commercial customer of SiteMeter and have paid them an annual fee to have them provide stats for this site for 3–4 years and was happy with the service until today!

Last week the folks over at StatCounter.com told the webhosting community that they had been offered big bucks by a company to drop a spyware / 3rd party cookie onto people visiting websites that use their service for stats. StatCounter.com smartly refused but added in their blog post that another stats company had apparently taken the money.

Up and until late this afternoon I was unaware who the suspect company was, and was shocked to have gotten some e-mails pointing me at some websites that were discussing that the well known SiteMeter.com was the other company that StatCounter.com had refused to name.

Examination on my own has discovered, and I am able to confirm, on two of my sites, that Sitemeter was sending “specificclick cookies” to anyone visiting this site. Violating not only my policy but apparently not following their own terms of service.

I have removed the SiteMeter.com counter and now have all of my sites using Google Analytics only. I am going to contact my attorney as well on this mater to find out what recourse we have in this mater.

This is not the behavior one would expect from a company that you pay a annual fee to, for service. This is so over the top that I can hardly believe that the would betray the trust of their subscribers to such a high level.

For more info visit “Eric Odom”, “Troubled Diva”, “Ask Shane”, “NetWizardBent Corner

8 Comments

  1. From Taylor Marek at 11:22 pm on April 2, 2007

    Wow, am I amazed!!! Never did I think something like this would happen. That move was definitely a slap in the face of stat companies, not to mention the people who use SiteMeter.

    Bummer to hear this Todd. May I recommend some other stat companies, if you are interested?

  2. From daimh at 7:04 am on April 3, 2007

    hi Todd

    I find the combo of GA and StatCounter is explosive.

    GA is good but it’s complicated. SC is realtime and gives you lots of details and is much more user-friendly.

    let us know how you get on with your attorney.

    daimh

  3. From Richard at 9:14 pm on April 3, 2007

    For those who are switching, http://GoStats.com is a great realtime alternative.

    You may also be wondering like me why every other counter site on the entire internet isn’t yelling out loud to everyone that they don’t spam their users. Maybe it is because: This is an obvious decision and the ethics of blasting such a message are questionable at best.

  4. From Davis Freeberg at 10:20 am on April 4, 2007

    My blog is now Sitemeter free. It sucks that they did this without even consulting their customers. If Sitemeter comes out with a good explanation, I’d consider taking them back, but given how they have never responded to any of my regular emails, I’m pretty sure that this will be the last time I use them. Their service has been really glitchy recently anyway.

  5. From MarkTheDaemon at 10:59 pm on April 4, 2007

    This is one of the reasons that I do not really like 3rd party statistics software, there is always the possibility of them inplanting something. The only 3rd party stats that I use is Google Analytics, which I haven’t had any problems with. I don’t think Google would be stupid enough to do something like this anyway.

    Do keep us updated on how you get on with your attorney and good luck with it!


    Mark

  6. From Stephanie at 12:49 pm on June 6, 2007

    you deserve a round of applause, followed by a standing ovation. :)

  7. From Andrew at 12:53 pm on June 22, 2007

    Todd,

    Thanks for the heads up. I am going to make sure that my readers know about this situation. Thanks again.

  8. From Ann at 4:56 pm on August 28, 2007

    Just want to ask how can Sitemeter get to a website. I have put a a new site (been active for about 2 weeks). All of a sudden I see them listed in my stats as a site that has a link to mine. I had never before visited or used them so how come they linked to my website? (Sorry if my question sounds silly but I am a novice regarding webdesign)