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#123 An Ad for the Worst Day of Your Life


Matt’s wife died a decade ago. Now, everywhere he goes on the internet, he can’t escape advertisements for clickbait sites with her picture on it. This week, Super Tech Support tries to help out.

Matt's non-profit, the Liz Logelin Foundation

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This episode is brought to you by better for him a new podcast from eighty people. In each episode Francesca Ramsay talks to visionaries in business leaders about mistakes. They ve made how they work their way through them and came out better for it. Listen on Spotify or wherever you get your podcast. This episode is brought to you by a Sana. A saga is an app designed to help teams, plan, organise and execute all the work they do together. It helps you make sure nothing falls through the cracks, so you can focus on the work that matters most learned more and try Osanna for free visit, asano dot com to get started. That's a ass, a dot com. From gimlet. Does it require I'm out and I'm he'd ever so Peter yes,
this week. I ran a story. It's a super tech support. Ok, you know the segment on the show where we help people solve unsolvable computer problems have been here, this one comes to us from gaining met. So The first thing I was wondering if you could just tell me how you like to be identified- yeah. My name is Matt and then my last name is kind of supposed to have a difficult time pronouncing it, but it's low Glen. So it's like so long ago, I'll say it again. Logan before I can even get the math problem. I have to the story by explaining the thing that he went through a decade ago. So I the stuff, maybe a little difficult for you to talk about, but I was wondering if it was ok. If I asked you about your wife, you can definitely asked me I was made, reader to my high school sweetheart actually had been dating from the time we were eighteen up until the day that she died and in you don't use, love my life. That's why If your name was lives, what happened was in two thousand and eight. The just had a baby girl, and
the day after she was born. While they were still in the hospital is try to get out of the hospital bed and she collapsed. It turned out that unit blood clots and within an hour she died. Oh yeah, how old is he? He was thirty? and, of course, met was totally destroyed, because this went from being the happiest moment of his life. To being the worst thing imaginable, I lost my best friend, I lost the woman. I love that I intended to spend my entire life with an anti. Of it. I had a brand new baby and ay. You could ask anybody that I'm related to already my friends They would tell you that she was going to be the better parent. No matter what I mean, I was ill prepared to like take care of myself until I met her mad didn't haven't close family living near him, and he just wanted them to. That he was ok, but you don't have to make half a dozen phone calls everyday, so he made what
turned out to be a strangely fateful decision, which is that he decided to write a blog just for his extended family. I was trying to leg assure my family that that I was doing ok, you know, I was writing in and basically, like short, form- poetry that I was like spitting words out. There was no punctuation, my family. They're, getting out a cool like he actually made to the grocery store and got formula for this today. We don't have to european and like you now take this chip away. Her call cps you're. Something here is that when it was literally a simple as that, so you just want to get you just wanted a to prove the people that you could do it and be wanted, like some accountability, someone to keep tabs on you exactly. That's exactly wanted, because I have my wife died in two weeks. I lost thirty five pounds and I needed these people who weren't gonna, be able to just pop on over and bring me a cup of super something I needed them to see that I was ok. So
the months, go by he's, getting better it being a dad and he's writing these observations about grieving and missing his wife and raising a child and people start follow. His blog and it starts getting a lot of notices. It just kind of became a viral story. How I love the newspaper wrote about it and then other outlet started. Get out, there's a profile and people magazine about him and he kept the blog up, about four years before stopping, but at a certain point he was starting to move on here, He is raising his daughter. He is starting to date again, like his life has just different and he doesn't want to do that anymore. He's reports at all all down activities was to do right, so he's done yeah which brings estimates problem. So it's when a teen eighteen, it has been in decades. Since all this happened to him, this pass January, met to get remarried he's really excited and then he starts getting all of these emails from people saying that hey, I saw that add your in. What's the ad so
No at the bottom of a lotta news articles there's that box that says like around the web debts a bunch of links tell it like listed goals and articles about celebrities and stuff. This is like that crappy when you read a real article that you I read and Andean, it's like a british queen. Were secretly spies and dad or celebrities. Five pounds now lives on the moonlit that stuff, so those links to click baby articles on other websites there actually paid for. Some people got that Little box a headlines, the chum box, so he has his face, was John Box, it wasn't just his face. It was a picture of him and Liz, his wife who died what exactly was it advertising? What did the advertisements? So the one that I saw this morning on an add on page six, as I click through some shitty like entertaining article was wife dies in the next day, husband clicks through to her pregnancy blogging, dot, dot, dot.
That kind of thing or the day after wife dies, husband finds her secret or something kind of crazy like that which none of that was true. Sophie I can show you one you go to New York magazine RO, all the way down to the end of the article to find the around the web section here, OZ is growth. It's her, it's. It is out of the picture him yeah, so the him in the hospital with a blue baseball cap with his wife. Yes, as after losing his wife has been turned to pregnancy block, any changes, everything and the picture, her yeah to picture of his wife and his wife passes away hours after giving birth husband logs in her pregnancy blog and finds this, which is not even it's not really an accurate representation. It makes it sound. He's either going to find out that she is like having an affair or, like God, left him a message or something like it's a weird curiosity.
Thing, is a picture of his wife who died right that sucks yeah and so would have been. If you click that link, you don't go back to is by you go back now you go to a website called direct expos. A dot com which is just a site with a bunch of click, baby articles in it an article just sort of like this short hand, quick hit version of his life so horrifying, so it like a go. It takes for like list form with all these pictures and like I just imagining being in love with someone and I'm die in an ending up like shitty viral content. It's horrible the other thing he said was, like you know, I'd people after this, and it did work out well and the people that I dated are in this thing to its like. How are they in the thing? It's like a their chance, it love oh yeah,
Oh, my god, he has a picture of them and at this point these adds which the linked to these click. Baby articles that human lives, are showing up in people magazine new. Daily NEWS, his parents, hometown newspaper, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press like it showing up on the websites of all of these places and Matt He wants to turn it off and he can't and he feels like it's all his fall. And you say it's your fault. You, because I put it out the right, like I put this shit out there, like I put this out there ten years ago, a cry for help as a way to remember my wife if as a way to keep in touch with my family, what kind of my fault, but at the same time, like ten years ago, I didn't expect this to happen, and I worked in internet advertising like I did this stuff that led to this,
still didn't see it. You know I didn't see it coming and if I had done that, I would have never done it. I wouldn't I would have thrown everything at that. I gained from the internet away too what this stupid fucking ads are so Matt asked me if I could figure out how he enlisted, showing up in the chumbox like this and even though he knew it was a longshot. He asked me if, There was any way I could try to get them taken down. Would you Tom, I told him that Nothing is too difficult for me to at least look into nothing he gave a start good for me too, Least lookin to I just register many problem is too large for me to think about attempting to help where I'm trying to manage expectations. Is it aware how many have that's not what I actually over them both and my mealy mouthed? Let all whimper what does it actually say? I said
I would like to see if I can get these taken down for you, two marginal.
This episode is brought to you by better for it a new podcast from eighty p hosted by Francesca Ramsay. We all make mistakes better, for it looks at how mistakes have shaped the lives and careers of visionaries and business leaders and helps them think differently about what their working forty you'll hear from an entrepreneur who ventured out on his arm, and so I went out. I took seven hundred dollars. I had in the bank, but my own pickup truck, took some flyers. Business cards in a week later had a business and H our role breaker, whose learned why we all care about work in the first place. You oughta be proud of the work that you do. You want to be able to tell your friends about. You ought to be able to feel like you're, making a difference. You'll hear how they work their way through their mistakes and came out better for listen on Spotify or wherever you get your pockets.
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Pga, you want to know what I've been up to this past week. Yes, I do what the cause In that I started with was why has met and loses story resurfaced over the past couple months, so started by train. To find as many of these viral click baby stories about mountain with as I could and just eat, all of the raiders to see if any of them would get back to me, and one of them did. I spoke to her on Twitter and she told me that she works in the EU k in an office full of like virus freelance writers she acts in every morning, at an office with a bunch other people, they get assignments all day and I just have to bang out viral peace. After viral peace. Ok- and I said like hey Do you know about this and she was like she's like he should expect more of these coming out. Our clients have been very interested in the story. Yeah she said clients are asking for it to be rewritten for different sites. I think we ve written about three or four verse. There's a company for different clients. Yeah,
so unfortunately met? is kind of a hot commodity right now and like the virus content circuit and cheese, a freelancer, she has no power to make this stop. So what I to figure out, was just like. Ok, how many of these sites are their running this article and how the bosses. Do I need to convince to take them down, and so we made a spreadsheet pepper and so far I feel there are at least eighteen different articles about Matt and was on eighteen different sites in there all. Basically, this they use a lot of the same photos it. They are. A sort of mirror one another. Eighteen, they're all websites that like you, would never go to on her bitter I've heard of but they're like sort of viral have fake news websites. We got life, buzz the buzz too we ve got one called hyperactive. Are they also supposed Buzzfeed? I mean hyperactive.
Is hyperactive it with his that, at any time- and it's all it's all very similar. This is a hyperactive one, after losing his wife just Does she given birth? This man's life turned upside down the other article? They ve got as this little girl, from the film one world is all grown gorgeous. They always do. I see people grow up, there's one called Artic the valley which took up amazingly valley is amazingly valley, is spelled without any social Vienna. Why and so I try to get in touch with all these sites, but either way fond, my messages or their number, her dead or like a kind of la jeered? How can I help you when I try to call them, the numbers just go to a completely different company I couldn't get mats articles taken down by reaching out to the cliff?
sites directly, but the thing is, I talked to the reporter: her name's Lucia Moses. She writes about digital marketing four digit day, and she told me that those click bait websites like articles Valley and likewise or whenever the called Actually the ones pudding links to their websites on places like New York magazine that is actually done all exclusively by just two companies and all the click they websites demand one is out brain and one is to boola and there like the market leaders, but in theirs as long tail of companies that have less I could share and they peddling more unseemly, more unseemly stuff that you see on some of these sites, of course, these companies don't use the term chum box, they call themselves content, recommendation or content discovery companies. They first popped up about a decade go when newspapers and magazines were taking a huge head, because they're making way less money than they used to print advertising, and they were just cut- freaking out,
it's really hard to make money online and its particular to make money on mobile sites where all the traffic is moving, so that guy, um boxes on their own sites? Ok, so like, if I article that old chum box, it's an advertisement for lucrative to basically and out space on their own sites to their publishers, advertisers, who would use it base to direct people to their own places one of these companies like two boola they reach out a publisher lake than Europe Mr Cnn or whatever, and they say, hey check it out. We ve got an easy money for you go ahead put these little boxes of advertising somewhere at the bottom of your article, that usually the bottom we'll sell the the goal of the boxes. You can tell us if their certain things you don't wanna have appear, but otherwise you get money in it. Don't have to worry about anything and so these newspapers and magazines, just a grudging least agree to it, a lot of
don't really like the ads, but they like getting eggs from two below our brain and then to boot. Out brain make money because those sites like life buzz and art, this valley are paying them to put links to their sight on like the web. You're eating, CNN or whenever and then the confusing thing is the dough sites like lifers in articles valley. They also can make money from to Berlin operate because they also agree to have chum boxes on their own sites. Okay, so like, if area that old chum box. It's an advertisement for a bad news article on another website good other Osage, so they can serve me with advertisements for other bad news articles on other websites, but look at some point for any of us to work One of those articles has to have like an advert product on it. Eventually what happens it. So, in addition to adds that are just adds fur like click baby articles brands will put stuff in
comebacks as well, so occasion will be like I tried this Electra toothbrush on the internet and had amazing result yeah believe how comfortable this mattresses full circle. Yeah and so over time, these chamber companies have become a strangely important part of the internet ecosystem. Some publishers are getting as much as like thirty per none of the revenue from these from these boxes. At the time it is an amount of money sounds really go to a publisher had really does sound good and so Here's to never occur to me. I think, as the ads look so cheap, I would assume that they were not here. Those I why why are you paying that crap on you, as I can't make it, how much money they look bad, but it doesn't make sense, but I mean you ve, clicked on them beforehand. Now I have never ever ice cream grab them legato screenshots. The ones I think, are the stupid escalating. It's funny, I'm never clicked on one. Never
I would say that I've probably made me, thousands of dollars. You click on them. What are the ones you click on items, such a sucker for a top ten list. What tables have liked, ten scary summer movies are another. I tend to actually do this more with the You two version of these, like whatever happened to Julia styles. Unlike what happened to Julia Stars, I should check out this video, but then Google, Julia style, like an information there, not real legatee, just say whatever they want to say, is videos gonna, have a narrative Googling Julia styles is just gonna show me like a gap in her film. Now it's you show your Wikipedia page, which will have like personally for controversy, Julius out Julius thousand too. In fifteen thousand eighteen hold on This is this. Is I use the internet how's comment its course yet all learn it right now, Julia Styles Wikipedia career.
Why would I go to that when I could go to designate and see in twenty fifteen file? Sign on reprisal role is making Parsons in Jason Bourne the fifth installer the born franchise shows a veto. Is Courtney, the wayward mother of Sophie never say in the great guilty Hopkins which U S, Cinemas October, seventh, twenty sixteen she's not doing I am on Nicky Swift, finding out why Hollywood one castula styles anymore. They different story What did they say? its path needed. So I don't know. Yet here are a few theories. Her critics having pulled punches in ten things I hate about you, bad reviews continued with two thousand three. The guy thinks it's gotten bad reviews see. This is the problem of these websites is like they will pose. Why should they actually have the answer? Like? U S? Shrewdly, what happened to Julia styles? She would say something as informed. Is that thing that you were decided click box office blues, I'm citing shrewdly, hey do you know, what's up with Julia style?
Likewise, in June, murmur is treated I've have a close to, or should I ask her to connect us? and just think you could get better information literally anywhere, including through thing never mind was just proving appointed Alex. Wait. So where are we actually Julia thousand Where are we in getting this ad hoc down at this point? Ok Oh, it's clear to me that the websites that are writing these articles- they're not gonna, take these stories down, but I feel I think that like if I can appeal directly to the people who run the chum boxes, that people who are putting the ads on widget new sites, maybe I could just ask them like if they would take them down, because articles. Are there but there's no ads linking to them there I can get traffic and mad slackened have run into them exactly so, I contacted taboo, learn our brain, the two biggest chum box companies and they were friendly, but they seemed kind of nervous to talk to me. Oh, why are so
your scam investigator hours? Galled him? Would you know? I think that, like these are companies that most people don't know the name of even if they see like powered by our brain, it doesn't mean it doesn't register with you in your on the site, any time someone writes about them. I feel like whenever I come across an article about them. It's like these are the people who provide us with the lowest quality content Nobody had ever like an appreciation for the place. It tells you how to lose weight, baiting beetles or whenever right. So I say like hey: we want to do you guys and they were both like what's civically. Do you want to talk to us about, and so I explained to them, what I was interested in and they are like yeah will will get back to you. But in the meantime I was contacted by another person who had written. One of these articles about men was and if not to remember having written it, but She told me about have accompanies rates for uses this special. I software that is specifically designed to find trending articles that are very popular that they can
just copy and throw up on their site called Buzz, sumo, which is the yeah. What is it like in the constitution that everyone is website? Has the steel, some part of US economic anyway, by Summa Basic. HU, a buzz sumo, does a show you how open an article has been shared on social media, so it'll show you: how often should I don't like Facebook or Reddit or twitter or whatever, and you can. By like key words in the headline you can search by things that are trending over the past twenty four hours stuff like that so I went in and I searched for the the words pray and see blog because in those two words appeal in a lot of headlines for the story, it, brought up a bunch of articles about man, some that I knew and something I didn't know and I found one article from July, twenty eighth of last year on a webs. Called little things tat come that I am Pretty sure is the vote First of all, Does recent spate of articles about Matt interests over I'm here is the first one first of
I can find an article earlier than this one and second of all, this article definitely went according to Buzz Sumo, it had eighty five thousand of what it calls engagements, which is like common shares or lakes on Facebook wow, but that The leaves a question right why, nine years after this happen, did Lake Chum Box internet pick up the sorting well, I think I know the answer so, The author of this article is is named June. Rivers, scientific definitely sounds fake. I called in mailed little things to ask them. If I could talk to June Rivers, they didn't get back to me. I e mail. A former writer from little things and she said The reason you having trouble finding in rivers is because, at the pen negative of an author of someone who worked on the staffing any page whoa I contacted me page nor spot, but back to the article and I found a huge clue, which is that
embedded within the article was a video from the Rachel ratio. So in two thousand and nine Matt appeared on the Rachel ratio. During hey day of his blog success, a territory was cooking, shall she does cooking After just as human interest stuff over I'm is the video of mad on Rachel ratio. If its joint began thirteen years ago, when mad Lublin met its high school sweetheart leads she's, perfect woman, she's perfect in every way, through smart shares, funny the wording of the eight years before we actually got married. So I looked at the you to channel for Rachel Ray and for whatever reason, reasons that are hard to discern. Maybe they d, never you too gentle in two thousand and nine, but that clip of me, on the Rachel ratio was uploaded on July, twenty first, twenty seventeen and how's how soon after that was degenerate
your magic to it one week interesting, so my theory is this site. Little things is all about doing human interests stories, in fact the right I talk to. You told me that they didn't care at all about timeliness as long as the stories were quote meaningful and heartfelt? So I and the author looking around four stories. She knows that retorted as human interest or issue goes the Rachel Rachel Ray. You two general sees this. Seize this video and as a great, this is perfect for our sight rate, the article it goes viral and then it creates a whole ecosystem of Matt Local and stories read so bully for me, I figured out where it came from still haven't figured out what to do about it. I mean it's weird, it's like like
the dead them. Even on these, like scare me sort of like copy stealing websites like there has to be a decay cycle of, Besides, I get like that die hard elsewhere, I breeders, like the people like everyone knows. Eventually, everyone is gonna, be like that story. I know that story like eventually. This thing has to become a share of all right, I'm not interested in that eventuality. So what you want to do what I want do, is get to Berlin, our brain to take down all the ads featuring mountain Liz, and I heard back from too They invited me to their offices in Manhattan wow. On Friday morning prick Turkey nearing. I went up there now. What are their offices like is tons of like giant beautiful pair? There's a people losing Golly fat. Their offices are very nice. Really there very googly there. I it's like today,
for you I Tol glass of carriages, beautiful, basically, really I walked in and they had. They had a big kitchen full of fruits and vegetables and candy and soda, and they really would you like anything and as a man, that's ok, they bring me they bring me into an office. If I have the skills, if you could just tell me what you had for breakfast, nothing, but I had coffee for reference actually and I meet the guy named Adam, singled fonder and founder and ceo, at which I'm just ten and a half years ago. What would you like? He's like you is like a handsome technologies ring a t, shirt and genes that bull, a logo is kind of like a googly. I'd smiling face headed to boot, yet a t shirt that was that logo, but with a Darth Vader helmet on was before we started. To tell you about nine celebrities who died for some time now. So. Can you first of all, you look very young. However, even you started to build come on. You know, there's white hair all over their done between nice to know I started to boot.
And a half years ago, was about twenty Six right, After a doctor, I was seven years in the israeli army. As an engineer and then that's my first job. I started back in Israel moved to new york- and I ve been doing this for this for a long time. And I asked at em like so what do you mean The term chum box have you heard of it and he was like now and so I really never heard of him now he never heard chum before voting, like he was offended by it or anything he's like. I know that I we don't always serve the high. Quality content in the world. Start telling me about his company, and I was like oh these guys make a ton of money like we'll be to block a thousand employees. All, because a stories like gnats or like though What's Julius thousand two story, and how many I mean, how many different ads are you serving a year?
I don't like the word adds I'll just say: Baghdad Recommendations, but so have we index about. Tens of millions of article videos products, that's in our index and. Recommend about twenty billion times a day twenty bill, in times a day, the almost half a trillion times a month, if they're serving this many ads or recommendations, I figure it out. We won't kill them to get rid of one or two ask him about that. So. We have this email from the sky is uneven, that local and- and about ten years ago, his wife past I told Adam that man had asked me if I could help and put an end to these adds an animal very intently. He was leaning forward, so he said to me. He said it is any way that we could talk to these people about. Just now. Serving these adds with my picture of them anymore. I'm curious how you feel about that. I can tell
I don't know that we are important enough to matter to address all of mats needs because in a word we're just one as I know, as long as I can affect it, I'm gonna look into it so Adam said they would look into it now. On Friday face Monday dropped drumming my fingers on the table being like what's gonna happen happen and Sunday morning I got in from Adam, which said since our meeting we work for their policy team and ever moved images related to match story from our network. We ve, so notified our content review team about this story. So of more publishers, try to run related campaigns with two boola we can. I do defy it and not approve it. We reckon that this is a painful experience and hope He will find some solace in this response. That's pretty stand up we're there. Articles will remain up, but to blow Won't share
to those articles, which is great yeah. That's great one. Owing to lake half of he was ass, unlike the other big companies out brain unless you, Why did you do anything about our brain? I spoke to him on the phone just couple hours ago and then in one doing interview Rebecca, but they did agree to take them down really so that they said to me yes, we'll take it down to, and it might take us a day or two, but, can tell your listening audience and you can tell Matt, GO our aim. So I have a lot to tell you. Oh great, I can't win, and so I told men but finally managed to get the sit down with. Ceo of two boola in his office in Manhattan. No shit explained your predicament and he said to me we the power to deal with this we'll take him down. Why
oh you're, some sort of wizards. That's just amazing, honestly, it didn't take a lot of convincing. They seemed to totally understand that this was causing you pain. And decided to work with us on a well the internet's not as terrible's. We once thought harmless, as there is really a many things like I couldn't be more happy. You know this is. This is really cool. I have to say I just feel genuinely like super tech support. Usually Salvarsan yeah now Pretty good
Reply all was hosted by Pga Vote and me I was Goldman or show is produced by shooting in any fear, Bennett, Damianus, Arkady, christening and Anna Foley are editors are TIM Howard and serious errors are in turn, is Jessica young. We were mixed by Kate balloons, backtracking by Michel Hairs, especial thanks this week to John Herman and to Caroline MOSS for putting us in touch with my lonely. Our theme song is by the mysterious brig master cylinder that labour is your favorite group chair. You can find more emphasis on the show, and I do spot if I were you get pod casts thanks for listening will see a couple weeks.
Do you wanna let the switch air travel is and away? We
Where are we now? What is this place? It's about our failure before, like you have to get the Swiss, where I found out assuage allowing useful if you take a song is over for that it just goes on. I have seven starts again. Please dress this where it is right as a job you get stuck there for weeks, I called out the Broadway musical have that modulation planet it so awful yeah that you're a theatre version. The rest of us are like. What's the flabby hands, why are they smiling so big? Did you see that, from this angle, looks like the piano flickering inside a box? I swear was lighting up their air lighting up every time we pass through the same destination and looks like it, but it's going by really fast. We never hit the switch at exactly the right. We need to talk about planets, decaf.
Transcript generated on 2020-02-13.