CHRON.COM is defunct. Our local newspaper now delivers online content through HoustonChronicle.com. I signed up this morning, but already regret it. Each time I engage the site or change pages, it tries to . . .
. . . download a link to something called api.viafoura.com.
Apparently it's a plug-in that operates something like a super-cookie and feeds information about you back to the mother ship at 801 Texas or, more likely, to the mother ship at the shadowy data-aggregating company that sells and manages the software link.
Viafoura advertises thusly: "Audience Engagement. Especially for Publishers. Increase the value of your audience with Viafoura's proprietary social plugins designed to increase audience engagement while capturing valuable user data."
In some circles, this is known as spying on the customers.
This is apparently how the locals plan to monetize the online product, by harvesting user data to sell to advertisers.
All I can say is shame, once again, on the Chronicle.
The only "value of your audience" that I wish to provide the newspaper is my subscription dollar. The amount of "valuable user data"I wish to supply the newspaper and its gnomes is exactly zero.
Next stop is the complaint desk at the newspaper, if one exists.
The sign-up page for HoustonChronicle.com has the usual boxes to accept or reject the flood of unwanted emails that the newspaper is itching to send. The page needs another box to deselect involuntary "audience engagement."
If you're planning to sign up for the new site, think twice.
If you go ahead, set your security and privacy settings high so that you will have the option of rejecting the newspaper's miserable and intrusive download.
Then be ready to say no every time you link to the site or to a different page on the site. Api.viafoura.com is nothing if not persistent.
One slip of the finger and you'll find yourself giving feeding more information to the Chronicle, frankly, than it feeds to you.