Unintended (or not?) consequences

Way back in the mists of time (late ’05 if memory servers), Google started offering a referral program through Adsense. One of the products in the referral program is Firefox: you put a button on your page (hint: bottom left-hand corner of this page) advertising Firefox, and Google gives you $1 for every user who clicks the button and follows through to install Firefox.

Fast forward a few months, and I’ve noticed something strange:

I’ve seen a few other sites as well – firefox2007 dot com is one. All these sites have is a large “Install firefox!” button, and the potential to earn the owner of the page $1.

Hrm. I can’t exactly see what’s wrong with this, but on the other hand, I don’t exactly feel comfortable with it either..

It must be fun to be a company so large that people make profit entirely through the differential in what you pay for a referral vs what they have to pay you in order to get that referral.

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