Peggy (shatterstripes) wrote,
Peggy
shatterstripes

What is LJ doing to my links? Part 2

Alright, I've been fiddling around some more with this outboundlink.net stuff. I signed up for Amazon's affiliate program to see what this Javascript would do to an affiliate link.

While I was on vacation, I picked up a copy of Pynchon's latest book, Inherent Vice. It was much more in the vein of The Crying of Lot 49 than Mason & Dixon, ie, actually fun to read.

If you have the 'dRev.js' script blocked, you'll end up at a page on Amazon with "&tag=egypturna-20" as part of the URL.

If you're not blocking the 'dRev.js' script... you'll end up at the same page on Amazon, with "&tag=5336432744-20" as part of the URL instead.

Guess what the "&tag=something" is used for? Telling Amazon which affiliate account to give credit to. If you buy that book by clicking on that link (or, I think, something else if you keep wandering Amazon from there), I'm supposed to get a kickback. But now someone else gets it. Livejournal? outboundlink.net? Who knows? And this thing is firing on links to about 150 different e-commerce sites, like eBay, iTunes, Newegg, Borders, buy.com, and lllllots more.




This code is also sloppy; it will try to do its work on any link whose end matches something it wants to play with. So http://www.crittersbythebay.com gets turned into an outboundlink.net URL, which redirects to a rover.ebay.com link with "&campid=5336432744" in it (hey, that number sure looks familiar!), which then ends up on the front of eBay, presumably because it's not actually providing a valid item link or something.




This code is definitely being inserted by Livejournal. If you go do something with LJ's very obscure Admin Console it will stop showing up. I don't think someone sneaking this into LJ would be bothering to wire it to a switch like that.




TL;DR: dRev.js is not only tracking your e-commerce links; it is actively removing any affiliate IDs and substituting its own. This is not a malicious third party; this is something LJ is doing on their servers.

Also any link dRev.js works its "magic" on now opens in a new window, which is a behavior I really, really hate.

I opened a support request on this.

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