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The New York Daily News headlines have been hijacked by rogue companies that use iGoogle Gadgets to reroute traffic from the real news company to their own bogus Web marketing sites.

New York Daily News editors and management should be screaming at Google: “We’ve been robbed! ”

Unscrupulous companies are using iGoogle Gadgets to steer traffic to their deceptive Web sites. Just yesterday while attempting to add The New York Daily News headlines gadget by clicking the “Add Stuff” link in the upper-right corner of the main iGoogle page it rendered a list of four sites masquerading as the legitimate tabloid. Only one out of the five gadgets found on the first page of search results links to the paper’s official portal. And its Gossip heading “New York Daily News Online — Daily Dish & Gossip” may put off those looking for hard news.

We selected one of the four bogus choices. Clicking the second result down “New York Daily News Health News”  a full-page ad comes up with blue and green fonts reading “your HEALTH topics”. There’s no apparent connection to the actual New York Daily News whatsoever.

Attempts to browse the fake health site (no NY Daily News evidenced anywhere) reveals a veneer. It’s aping an online health news aggregation site. The Boston Globe links lead to a repeat of the same headline on a new page.

We selected the first “story” on the list as an experiment, “GOP plan centers on seniors’ bill of rights”. When clicking the headline you’re led to an content-less page. If you click “Full Story” you go off-site to another, what appears to be, more legitimate health news aggregator site run out of Sydney, Australia called The Medical News. It appears the news aggregator relies on free content from the not-for-profit The Kaiser Family Foundaton’s Health News site. Midway down the article the Web site references its permission to republish by stating: “The article is republished with kind permission from our friends at The Kaiser Family Foundation.”

Ultimately, the search results here are navigating to layers upon layers of fake news sites. With The New York Daily News nowhere to be found. Since these are iGoogle Gadgets being misused, the grievance is between The New York Daily News and Google.

We’ve called and written The New York Daily News for comment.

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UPDATE: 3:59 p.m. EST:  When NY Daily News management responded regarding their headlines and brand being hijacked, they also informed us that they  “have paused” acai berry ads and fake news site ads “as of 1 hour ago,” according to Stephen McLaughlin, Online Ad Sales at The New York Daily News. The paper stands out for this ethical act.  See 08-26-09 3:00p.m. Update below. The ads are back up.

UPDATE: 5:13 p.m. EST: emailed Jennifer Mauer, Director of Communications, New York Daily News: “This issue of ‘hijacking’ brands to steal traffic is important. We are soon writing a brief story about one small business owner who almost went broke trying to fight all the companies wrongly using his product trademark to drive traffic to their sites —that is bait and switch as the sites don’t sell his products. Please. Can I get a comment from you regarding this issue of your stolen headlines and the impersonation of NY Daily News?”

Mauer answered by email, “As we have already said, we thank you for bringing these ads to our attention. The ads in question have been paused and we will investigate this matter further. At this time, we have no further comment.”

We will continue to provide updates as they come in. The fake New York Daily News headlines gadgets are not “paused” in any way and wrongly remain on iGoogle as legitimate gadgets offered to the public.

StinkyJournalism has also emailed Google, The Medical News and The Kaiser Family Foundation for comment.

UPDATE: 08/25/09: 9:17: P.M.  Anne Espiritu, Google Inc., Global Communications & Public Affairs informed me by email, “You can advise New York Daily News that they can file a notice of infringement referencing the alleged gadgets you mentioned below.  You can find details here.  Also, fixed typo.

UPDATE: 08/26/09: 3:00 p.m. : We see the fake diet berry ads and fake blogs from Pulse 360 are now back up on the Daily News site. Last time we heard the ads were “paused.” We have written the Daily News asking for an explanation.

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Hijacked! headlines’ traffic routed to fake sites through iGoogle Gadget

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