Social Networking's Scammy Sugar DaddyS

It turns out the third-largest advertiser across MySpace and Facebook was a scam to switch people's search engines to Bing and then collect affiliate fees from Microsoft. It's yet another example of how social networks are rife with shady operators.

According to Comscore, Make-My-Baby.com was the third largest advertiser across Facebook and MySpace in the fall 2010, delivering 1.7 billion ad impressions, more than Verizon but less than AT&T and IAC. As Google's Matt Cutts first pointed out, Make-My-Baby.com is a scheme to get people to install a toolbar that re-routes their searches to Microsoft Bing and which was very tricky to remove. (The removal instruction web address went nowhere.) So Make-My-Baby would lure people with the chance to digitally enhance baby pictures, then collect referral fees from Bing for rerouting their searches. The same people appear to have previously run a scheme to collect auto-recurring monthly cell phone surcharges.

Bing today severed its relationship with Make-My-Baby, and Facebook is trying to say that the site was never advertiser, while also saying"any affiliates that try to push people there we would shut down," implying the ad could have run on Facebook via one of its problematic affiliate advertisers. In any case, this scam is just one of many. The really scary ones try and go legit, or even build their own social networks.

[ReadWriteWeb, image via Shutterstock]