Tech News

AVG Free Is Selling User Data, Moot Sells 4Chan…[Tech News Digest]

Justin Pot 22-09-2015

AVG’s free version is monetized by selling user data, 4chan is sold to 2chan’s founder, a crippling Chrome bug is turned into a game, Apple updates WatchOS, and what happens when you watch every show.


AVG Free Monetizes User Data

Economists will tell you: there’s no free lunch. Yet if traffic to our site is any indication, a lot of you are searching for and downloading free antivirus programs Free Anti-Virus Comparison: 5 Popular Choices Go Toe-To-Toe What is the best free antivirus? This is among the most common questions we receive at MakeUseOf. People want to be protected, but they don’t want to have to pay a yearly fee or use... Read More .

Which brings to mind an interesting question: how are free antivirus programs supposed to pay for themselves? AVG recently explained that they, in part, track anonymous user information and sell that data. They even made a friendly video, to clarify things.

The key point: anonymized information about your Internet activity will be sold to third parties. The reaction hasn’t been uniformly positive, as you can imagine.

Fair enough, but on the other hand tracking user activity and monetizing that data isn’t exactly new: it’s how Facebook, Gmail, and basically any free app you can think of pays the bills at this point. The main difference here is that AVG is clearly stating what they’re doing.

Sure, it’s jarring when a security company is collecting and monetizing our online behavior, but on some level isn’t this the Internet we all signed up for by refusing to pay for things? People who value their privacy, after all, have the option to pay for it by buying AVG. As with the ongoing discussion about ad blocking, I’m sure we’ll be talking about this for years to come.


Moot Sold 4Chan to 2Chan’s Founder

Christopher Poole, AKA Moot, founded 4chan in 2003 – he was 15 years old. Now, 12 years later, he’s selling the site to Hiroyuki Nishimura – the man who inspired Poole to create 4chan in the first place.

Nishimura is the founder of Japanese-language anonymous imageboard 2chan, which Poole has always said was the inspiration for 4chan.

“Hiroyuki is literally the only person in the world with as much if not more experience than myself in running an anonymous, large destination community that serves tens of millions of people,” Poole told The New York Times. “He’s the great-grandfather of all of this.”


Poole started 4Chan in the hopes it would become a place for English-speakers to talk about anime. That happened, but 4chan also evolved into…other things. Depending on your point of view, 4chan is:

  • A cesspool of hatred and filth
  • A bastion of free speech
  • The disgusting site that spawned #GamerGate
  • The fascist site that censored and banned #GamerGate
  • Nothing of value

Which is all to say that, like most online communities, 4chan is complicated. And now it’s in the hands of the man who inspired it – who has a big job on his hands.

Chrome’s Terrible Bug Turned Into a Game

As of Monday, Chrome is vulnerable to a bug that can crash any tab, just by hovering over links with certain characters in succession. This is obviously terrible, but you know the old saying: when life gives you bugs, make bug-based games.

3030 is a simple game where you move your mouse through a maze of potentially browser-crashing links. Don’t touch a tree!



I’ve got to say: there are many things I hate about Chrome 5 Things I Hate About Chrome Chrome, the operating system, is apparently pretty great – but Chrome, the operating system, is the worst thing that ever happened to Chrome, the browser. Read More , but this bug isn’t one of them. It’ll be patched soon, and if nothing else it’s amusing.

Apple Releases WatchOS 2 for Apple Watch

Apple Watch users got their first major OS upgrade yesterday. Mashable has a great video round-up of the new features.


The biggest addition is probably the possibility of native apps, the full impact of which won’t be noticed by most users until they become more common. There’s also new integration with transit directions, and a few new watch faces you can use.

Say what you will about the Apple Watch – and people have – but it’s far from a flop Apple Watch Sales Might Have Dropped, But It’s Far From a Flop We won't know the true number of sales until Apple releases official data in the Fall, but even if recent poor sales figures are correct; the Apple Watch is far from a flop. Read More . Apple sold more watches on launch day than Android Wear sold in the year leading up to it, and the device keeps winning people over How The Apple Watch Won Me Over When Apple announced their latest gadget, I wasn't entirely impressed. I ignored the hype, disregarded the reviews, and didn't pre-order one for myself. Obviously, I caved. Read More . Personally, I prefer my mechanical watch (batteries are the worst), but I’m excited to see how this technology evolves – and how other companies react to it.

And Finally, The Emmys’ Intro Was Pretty Good

You didn’t watch the Emmys, because you were too busy bing-watching Doctor Who. Fair enough, but take a few minutes to watch this clip:

There’s a lot of great TV out there, and binge-watching is wonderful A Short Guide To Binge-Watching [Weird & Wonderful Web] Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video have turned binge-watching into a mainstay of the mainstream. Before you begin binge-watching TV you should arm yourself with some important information. This short guide helps. Read More , but you can’t possibly watch everything. Or can you?

Your Thoughts On Today’s Tech News

Is AVG within its rights to monetize your browsing? Is 4chan better off with its new owner? Could you design a game based on browser bugs? Any thoughts on the new Apple Watch OS?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Related topics: Anti-Malware, Antivirus, Apple Watch, Computer Privacy, Google Chrome.

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  1. Anonymous
    September 25, 2015 at 5:47 pm

    I Do Not Mind To Have An Occasional Browser Crash - I Have It Configured To Continue Where I Left Off.

    But, In This Case, When The Browser Crash Is Also Immediately Followed By A BSOD, The Fun Ends Right There.


  2. Anonymous
    September 23, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Y'know what would make an interesting story? One about a company/app/device/program that is NOT collecting user data surreptitiously for its own benefit.

    The Internet was a fantastic thing for about three years. It *was* the last bastion of free speech. Then, under the guise of "necessary for US security," it became the realization of Orwell's concept of incessant monitoring by one massive entity or other.

    We help those entities every step of the way by posting or tweeting or upload videos of every minute detail of every little activity within our entire waking lives, from what we said in passing to a coworker to where we'll eat dinner to how much we had to drink to the color of our last bowel movement. Then we have the audacity to wonder how we have no privacy.

    Why we're shocked by every new revelation (or reminder) of that is totally beyond me. Orwell was dead on about "Big Brother" just like Stephen King was dead on about the "reality TV show." And, I'm sorely afraid, Mike Judge will be proven right about "Idiocracy."

    We're poor little lambs who have lost their way, baa, baa, baa. It has been that way since before "social media" was invented. Get flippin' used to it.

    • Justin Pot
      September 23, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      I bet you're fun at parties.

    • Anonymous
      September 25, 2015 at 3:40 pm

      I have to admit, that's pure Gold right there.

  3. Anonymous
    September 23, 2015 at 3:27 am

    This AVG thing is the least of our worries, honestly. All of the platter-based HDD manufacturers have been installing back doors into their chipsets, and do you know who holds the keys? The NSA.

    • Justin Pot
      September 23, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      How does a back door into a hard drive even work? I'm not sure I understand...

      • Anonymous
        September 25, 2015 at 3:38 pm

        Think of your PC like a house, which (typically) has a back door. Imagine that people who want to spy on you and monitor every single thing you do, even make copies of all of your family's personal information, have a key to that door and can come into your home any time they want to, without your permission. THAT is what it is. If it's on your computer, they have access to it and can even be set up to automatically save a record of everything you do on it, every time you boot up, browse the web, watch a movie, etc. If it happens on your computer, they can see it, ALL of it.

        • Justin Pot
          September 25, 2015 at 8:52 pm

          That metaphor explains nothing, the hard drive doesn't have any network connectivity on its own. And if someone has physical access to your hard drive, they're in anyway – unless it's encrypted, in which case a "back door" wouldn't help. I'm just confused.

        • Anonymous
          September 25, 2015 at 11:05 pm

          Oh, you're sure confused alright, but that's not *my* doing.

  4. Anonymous
    September 22, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    I think I'll probably switch when AVG start doing this although I'll wait until the deadline to give a chance for people to tell me that the other companies do exactly the same thing.

    I'd accept the selling on of browsing details - that's a pretty common practice - but not the rooting around my computer looking for stuff to flog.

    There's also the problem that, once they have put the mechanics in place and got used to this income stream; can I trust them to forgo the extra cash even if I buy the product.

    • Justin Pot
      September 23, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      I'm sure they'd rather have a paying customer than the piddly amount they get from monetizing data, to be honest. They wouldn't betray a paying customer.

  5. Anonymous
    September 22, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    The time to stop using AVG was about nine years ago, when it decided to become another resource-hogging boat-anchor of performance. It should've been put to pasture ages ago.

    • Justin Pot
      September 22, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      You might be right. To be honest, that's right around the time I switched to Linux, so my personal experience with the program isn't up-to-date.