Link Mischief at Feedly

January 8, 2014

Here is some content excitement of interest to journalists and bloggers everywhere. MakeUseOf informs us that “Feedly Was Stealing Your Content—Here’s the Story, and Their Code.” Apparently, the aggregation site was directing shared links to copies on their own site instead of to original articles, essentially stealing traffic. Writer James Bruce, eager to delve deeper into the code, makes it clear that he is following up on a discovery originally revealed by The Digital Reader.

For example, the article notes that Feedly is now sending links to the proper sites, but by way of JavaScript code instead of in the usual, server-level way. Bruce also noticed that, in its attempt to improve functionality, Feedly was stripping embedded items from content. Advertising, tracking, share buttons, even “donate” buttons—gone.

Bruce writes:

“Not only were Feedly scraping the content from your site, they were then stripping any original social buttons and rewriting the meta-data. This means that when someone subsequently shared the item, they would in fact be sharing the Feedly link and not the original post. Anyone clicking on that link would go straight to Feedly.

So what, you might ask? When a post goes viral, it can be of huge benefit to the site in question — raising page views and ad revenues, and expanding their audience. Feedly was outright stealing that specific benefit away from the site to expand its own user base. The Feedly code included checks for mobile devices that would direct the users to the relevant appstore page.

It wasn’t ‘just making the article easier to view’ — it was stealing traffic, plain and simple. That’s really not cool.”

The write-up goes on to detail the ways Feedly has responded to discoveries, where the issue stands now, and “what we have learnt”: Feedly made some bad choices in the pursuit of a streamlined reading experience. As a parting shot, Bruce cites another example of a bad call by the company—it briefly required a Google+ account to log in. He has a point there.

Cynthia Murrell, January 08, 2014

Sponsored by, developer of Augmentext


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta