Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Netanyahu deletes tweet featuring photo of James Foley

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Read more

FOCUS

Lifting the veil over China's air pollution

Read more

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

  • French teenage girls held over Syria jihad plans

    Read more

  • Good borders make good neighbours, Merkel tells Ukraine

    Read more

  • Iceland issues aviation alert on volcano activity

    Read more

  • France will not be 'be pushed around' by Germany

    Read more

  • Libya withdraws as Africa Cup of Nations host

    Read more

  • ‘European GPS’ satellites launched into wrong orbit

    Read more

  • Suicide bomber targets Iraq intelligence HQ in deadly attack

    Read more

  • Video: Israel bombs kidnapping suspect’s home

    Read more

  • US brands journalist’s beheading a ‘terrorist attack’

    Read more

  • Ebola prompts Philippines to recall UN troops in Liberia

    Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • US sued over ‘deportation mill’ in New Mexico

    Read more

  • Colombian army and FARC rebels in face-to-face talks

    Read more

  • US National Guard starts to pull out of embattled Ferguson

    Read more

  • PSG fall flat once more against Evian

    Read more

  • US job market yet to recover from recession, says Fed Chair

    Read more

  • August 22, 1914: The bloodiest day in French military history

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

SCIENCE

The Web cashes in on deadly virus

Video by Gallagher FENWICK , Battiste FENWICK

Text by Sébastian SEIBT

Latest update : 2009-05-07

The H1N1 flu virus is rapidly spreading across the World Wide Web. Scammers, spammers, online entrepreneurs – everyone wants to cash in on the flu scare.

Click on tiny green pigs which randomly appear on a world map to beat the H1N1 virus. Swinefighter, a free online game, is rapidly spreading across the World Wide Web, just like the deadly virus. The site says "8,793,854 infected pigs have been destroyed".

A special feed on Twitter has been created to attract more visitors: “OMG, they created a game about it,” reads one of the tweets.

The H1N1 virus has attracted a lot of attention on the Web, and not just from people anxious for information about the flu. According to MacAfee, which makes software to fight (metaphorical Internet) viruses, the number of domains (Internet addresses) including the word "swine" has multiplied by 30. “And you can bet it’s not all going to be informative,” notes MacAfee's site.

Internet-networking giant Cisco estimates that H1N1 virus-related spam accounted for up to four percent of the total advertising mails sent out globally. Not a bad figure for a disease that’s been in the news for just over a week.

Scammers and opportunists

The aim is to attract naive Internet users towards sites where they may be compelled to spend money. Computerworld underlines that some of the spam mails direct users towards online pharmacies that propose miracle remedies while other mails lead to sites that host Internet viruses.

But not all online intiatives are scams. Some, like Swinefighter, are more about online entrepreneurs taking advantage of the crisis for profit. Flushirts is selling T-shirts online for $16 apiece. ZocDoc, a Web site used to find doctors in New York in an emergency, has set up a special H1N1 flu service.

The Web security site Sophos says people shouldn't be surprised that spammers are taking advantage of curiosity and concern about the flu.

Date created : 2009-05-04

COMMENT(S)