Adware company Zango has strenuously denied any involvement in the 'Secret Crush' malicious widget that tricks Facebook users into downloading spyware. The company also objects to its software being labeled as adware.
The security firm Fortinet last week identified the malware that spread rapidly among millions of Facebook users after 'Secret Crush' tricked them into downloading Zango adware software after falsely promising to divulge who has a secret crush on them.
"As far as what happened here with this Facebook widget, we're not associated with it in any form," says Zango CEO Keith Smith.
"At one point, an ad for Zango showed up there, one of many rotating ads that were there. It was placed by a publisher partner of ours.
"It's simply a rotating ad and we're not in the business of fooling people. We want the consumer to only knowingly install the software."
Smith says Zango deeply objects to having its software labeled "spyware", as the Fortinet report refers to it. "The Zango software is not spyware," Smith says. "We refer to our software as a toolbar."
Zango says it is comfortable with its software being called "adware" if the term is accepted to mean software installed with the user's consent.
"Spyware implies without consent," Smith says.
Fortinet, informed of Zango's complaints, issued a statement saying it believes its research to be accurate in the January 2, 2008 posting.
"We stand behind our original research," Fortinet states.