Verizon Substituting Its Own Search Engine – Overriding Its Own Users Search Engine Preferences

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Verizon Wireless is subsituting its own search engine – complete with ads which earn revenue for Verizon – even overriding their users’ own preferences – whenever a user of Verizon’s fiber optic Internet service (FiOS) mistypes a domain name.

The “feature”, as Verizon refers to it, known as Verizon’s “Advanced Web Search” (although their technical name for it, which we just love, is “DNS Assistance”), was rolled out in limited areas as early as June of this year – and went nation wide recently – with an announcement claiming that Verizon’s Advanced Web Search is “designed to reduce the amount of dead-end, “no file exists” or similar error messages you see and to help you quickly find the destination web site you were seeking..” such as if “you type a nonexistent or unavailable URL (e.g., www.verizon.cmo), or enter a search term, into your browser address bar..”

According to Verizon, they are doing this to “help” their customer who fumble-finger a web address, but it’s an interesting way of “helping” them indeed. If, for example, Google is my search engine of choice – the one I specifiy in my preferences, who is Verizon to override that preference? (Well, in this case, they are the Internet service provider, so they can do this – technically – but should they?)


 

Moreover, while it is at least possible to ‘opt out’ of this by changing the default DNS settings which Verizon provides to its FiOS customers, should one have to opt out of having their own personal preferences – as set in their system – overridden?

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We think not.

And their opt-opt instructions try hard to scare you away from opting out – and of course will scare away all but the most technically comfortable superusers anyway, as they require changing your DNS configuration. Say the opt-out instructions:


 

Opting out of DNS Assistance

When you enter a domain name into the address bar of your Web browser, DNS (Domain Name Service) translates the domain name into an IP address that your computer understands. Your computer then displays the Web site based on this IP address.

If you prefer that the DNS server display an error message when it can’t match the domain you’ve entered with an IP address, you can change your DNS settings in your hardware device (router, gateway, or modem) or in your Operating System. Either method prevents DNS Assistance servers from displaying a page of links to sites that have similar domain names to the one you entered.

Note: If you change the DNS settings in your Operating System, you could encounter problems if you travel with this computer. You will probably have to change back to the original settings to connect to a hotel network, for example. Changing the DNS settings in the hardware device requires that you know the device user name and password.

Complained one user on Webmaster World, “It was the very first thing I noticed when Verizon finally got FiOS installed here the other day. Very annoying and hardly in the spirit of net neutrality, eh?”

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Verizon Substituting Its Own Search Engine – Overriding Its Own Users Search Engine Preferences

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12 Replies to “Verizon Substituting Its Own Search Engine – Overriding Its Own Users Search Engine Preferences”

  1. What BS. I use a bookmark I’ve used for two years and now it thinks I misstyped the URL?! What a joke. The sight I go to takes a while to login due to security checks, so I beleive it has a timer that defaults to the assist page…Craptacular Verizon. Not making my user experience any more enjoyable. You suck you money hungry buttnuggets!

  2. What BS. I use a bookmark I’ve used for two years and now it thinks I misstyped the URL?! What a joke. The sight I go to takes a while to login due to security checks, so I beleive it has a timer that defaults to the assist page…Craptacular Verizon. Not making my user experience any more enjoyable. You suck you money hungry buttnuggets!

  3. So how do I get rid of it? I can’t find anything when this interrupts my searching process.

  4. Im glad im not the only one who hates this service. I was on a website lastnight and i wake up to get back on movie2k but every time i search i get nothing but that stupid Verizon bs. i thought i may have downloaded something to get it to mess up im glad its not me. I have a windows 8 and as it is its already hard for me to use or find help when i have problems.

  5. This mainly with Firefox.
    FOr example I can type ‘speakeasy’ and get Verizons obnoxious search. But Chrome and Opera direct to Speakeasy site. Note: I use a secondary provider which leases Verizon copper line for my DSL (I dont have Verizon wireless or Fios)

  6. Well, since you have ads on your page, and you haven’t actually explained how to deal with this problem, are you that much better than verizon? You’ve told us that verizon sucks for doing this, but we already knew that.

  7. I have this problem too, but it doesn’t only happen with mis-typed addresses — it also happens when I search in the Google searchbar or when I click on my bookmarks. Very irksome!

  8. Congrats Verizon, you’ve made platform independent spam. For a moment I thought Linux had failed me at keeping away malware. Bastards…

  9. I completely hate this “service” that cripples the functionality of my brower. Without it, my browser automatically adds items like “.com”. With it, I am routed to Verizon (not really a) help page. And like you say, just try to disable it. Thw whole reason I am here it looking for a way to shut it down. I may have to find another provider.

  10. I’m glad I’m not the only one. I’m just 5 miles south of the MA line in RI and just noticed this happening in the last 3-4 weeks. Very dissappointed! I’m surprised that good ol’ Gates & MS geek experts have allowed this to “slip” through their fingers. MS IE obvioulsy gives users the option to chose the search engine of preference, including from the address bar, however, and once again Verizon and a few other ISP’s have managed to cause, yet what I forsee to be just another legal issue waiting to happen in terms of disregarding MS software licensing and security agreements. As for searching from the address bar, my own personal choice of preference has been Google and Alta Vista, however, regardless of the MSIE option and settings, and because of Verizon’s so called “Advanced Websearch Assistance” feature, I am forced to use this pathetic feature, instead of MS given options. However, on a good note, I’ve set Google as my home page for IE and chose to no longer search from the address bar.

  11. I have regular verizon DSL, I live in a rural area of Massachusetts. This started happening about 4 weeks ago for me, and it’s not just for mis-spellings – if you type google as a keyword in firefox
    it brings you to
    my default search engine is google, and I run linux .
    I am switching out my DNS servers today. I am pissed .
    this is totally unacceptable

  12. I was renting a house in OBX and it appears that Charter communications does the same thing. One could argue that a custom DNS error message would cut down on help desk calls from novice users.

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