The “Secret Crush” malicious widget that tricks Facebook users into downloading spyware was not created by Zango, according the adware company's chief executive.
The security firm Fortinet last week identified the malware that spread rapidly among millions of Facebook users after “Secret Crush” tricked them into downloading Zango adware software by falsely promising to divulge who had a “secret crush” on them.
Zango chief executive Keith Smith said: "As far as what happened here with this Facebook widget, we're not associated with it in any form. ... At one point, an ad for Zango showed up there, one of many rotating ads that were there. It was placed by a publisher partner of ours.
“It's simply a rotating ad and we're not in the business of fooling people. We want the consumer to only knowingly install the software."
Smith said Zango deeply objected to having its software labelled "spyware" as the Fortinet report refers to it. "The Zango software is not spyware," Smith says. "We refer to our software as a toolbar."
Zango says it is comfortable with its software being called "adware" if the term is accepted to mean software installed with the user's consent. "Spyware implies without consent," Smith says.
Fortinet, informed of Zango's complaints, issued a statement saying it believed its research to be accurate. "We stand behind our original research," Fortinet stated.