is now at 3.0, and instead of continuing with the NewsGator subscription service, it now offers syunchronization with Google Reader. I thought it was great, downloaded and installed v3.
Then I saw FeedDemon now displays ads.
I went back to the website looking for some disclosure, but there's nothing (at least nthing I can readily see). I revisited Nick Bradbury's post, Introducing FeedDemon 3.0
, thinking that such a change would merit a mention in What's New, but no.
I uninstalled, cleaned every last trace of FeedDemon from under "Documents and Settings", then reinstalled FD 3, expecting to find some big red warning on the license page that I had somehow missed. Turns out I didn't miss anything - the license does not mention the ads, or if it does, it must be in some inscrutable language.
It seems to me that by not disclosing the advertising prior to installation, NewsGator runs afoul of the law in some countries. It used to be the typical evil practice in the early days of adware, but today we expect to be told before we install. This is particularly important because of the following:
When you first launch FeedDemon, before you see the main program window with the ads in the corner, FD asks you if you want to synchronize with Google Reader. This means entering your Google account username and password in the program. I was naive enough to trust Nick Bradbury, and did so. Only then did I see the ads first.
This leads to a number of questions:
Since FeedDemon does not disclose the fact that it has become adware, what else does it not disclose? Are the ads context-sensitive? Does FeedDemon share my subscriptions and the articles I read with NewsGator or with third parties? The license does not say it doesn't, so my assumption is that it may.
does admit they "collect" (a) subscriptions and (b) "Data from actions you take on posts (for example marking read, saving, forwarding via email, etc)". It is not clear though whether this relates only to the online activities (the NewsGator paid aggregation service, if it still exists), or if it also affects desktop sofware like FeedDemon. FeedDemon itself bears no privacy-related information.Now, it is entirely possible that I am the last person in the world to find out FeedDemon is now adware.
Sure, there are mentions on the support forums. However, users cannot be expected to see the forums before they install the software. This does not count as proper disclosure before the fact.
As if that were not enough, FeedDemon manages to add add insult to injury. After the installation, and after it synchronizes with Google Reader, FeedDemon asks if you want to add its suggested subscriptions. I selected "No, don't subscribe me to anything else right now" and proceeded.
Result: FeedDemon displays my Google Reader subscriptions, as well as a bunch of new junk subscriptions I specifically told it to exclude. What's worse, it pushed those additional subscriptions to the Google Reader account, thereby polluting it with lots of stuff I now have to remove manually. This may be a bug, but you'd think something like that would have been easily caught in beta, so who knows if it really is a bug. (Just to be sure, I repeated the entire uninstal / scrub / reinstall process twice, thiking maybe I did not check the right option the first time. The effect was the same both times.)
You can pay (under $10) for a key to remove the ads, and that's okay, since I first registered FeedDemon in 2004 and would not mind paying for an upgrade. But I cannot with clear conscience support NewsGator's policies. And first I would like to know how much of my Google account data has already been leaked to NewsGator or their advertisers without my permission. Come to think of it, it's quite sickening. A very annoying experience.