UK Tories put a spam kingpin in charge of the party

Grant Shapps is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Welwyn Hatfield and the new co-chair of the UK Conservative Party. He's also co-owner (with his wife) of a spam factory called HowToCorp, which markets a product called TrafficPaymaster, a program that scrapes blogs/RSS/search results, runs the text through a thesaurus (seemingly to avoid copyright infringement charges) and pastebombs the resulting word-salad onto pages slathered in display ads, in the hopes of tricking search engines into returning them as results for highly ranked queries and racking up accidental click money.

Danny Sullivan explains the workings of "spinner" software like TrafficPaymaster, and documents the tricks that the Shappses' company uses to market its wares, including a web of aliases and elaborate, misleading accounts of how Google views products like TrafficPaymaster and its useless output (here's a sample of the material the Shappses' program outputs: "A free of charge golf swing lesson appears a very little as well superior to be accurate." Here's another: "So the to begin with phase to getting a quality golfer is to order some clubs that match you.")

It’s high-profile, of course, because it’s fairly hard to believe that the new co-chair of the UK’s ruling political party (mostly ruling, the Conservatives share power with the much smaller Liberal Democrat party) is behind software that “plagiarizes” content to spam Google.

Technically, I’m not sure if the spinning is plagiarism, but both UK papers I’ve mentioned are running with that angle. They’re also big on this quote posted on Warrior Forum that appears to be from the aforementioned Sebastian Fox:

Google may or may not like a particular approach, but the real question is whether there are any signs about how a page has been created. If the answer is no, well then it doesn’t much matter what Google officially thinks.

The Guardian cites that as if the quote is dismissive of “Google’s attempts to police the internet,” whereas The Telegraph suggests that it means “Google would be unable to stop the copying of websites.”

The reality is that the claim isn’t some type of gauntlet being thrown down against Google. It’s simply meant to reassure a prospective buyer of what I covered above, that Google probably can’t tell that the page was created using automation, so even if Google has official rules against that (it does), TPM users probably won’t get caught.

Danny finishes: "The Conservatives came under accusations that they were too close to Google earlier this year. Having the party run by someone who created, and still seems associated with, a business designed to help people spam Google probably will serve as a nice balance to that."

New UK Conservative Party Co-Chair Grant Shapps Founded Google Spamming Business


  1. I suppose that the “Long Lost 1919 Manuscript” is simply a public domain book written before plastics and carbon fiber changed how balls and clubs were made.

  2. “runs the text through a thesaurus (seemingly to avoid copyright infringement charges) and pastebombs the resulting word-salad”

    And now we know how they wrote Cameron’s manifesto: Thatcher>thesaurus>pastebombing of word-vomit…

    1. The guy is obviously a rotter, but then what do you expect from a Tory party chairman? Do you remember these guys: John Selwyn Gummer (who fed his young daughter a mad cow burger on tv), Norman Tebbit (an extremely unpleasant right wing loon), Cecil Parkinson (silencing the mother of his illegitimate child through court order) – absolute wankers the lot of them. Damn the tories.

      1. You mean Baron Debin, Baron Tebbit, and Baron Parkinson… :-)

        Always thought ‘mad cow burger’ was a little unfair though. Gummer was alright; he was a pretty decent environment secretary. Even Tebbit was okay – the cricket test is generally misunderstood although he still deserves pillory for ‘get on your bike’. Parkinson’s a detestable worm, though.

  3. So: the Tory Party has officially become the Circumlocution Office. I have to say that I am not in the least surprised.

  4. Calling him a “spam kingpin” is kind of missing the point of his business model. He has software that automates the process of setting up spurious, content-free but search-engine-friendly websites that in theory could make some money from web advertising before they are detected and ejected from the Google searches… but he is not actually using that software himself. Instead he sells it to other people who are stupid enough and greedy enough to think that *they* can make money from web advertising on spurious websites. It’s a classic get-rich-scheme scam… it relies on the marks never stopping to ask themselves “If this is so lucrative, why isn’t *he* using it?”

    So “scam kingpin” would be closer to the truth.

    And now he can use the same software to write Conservative Party manifestoes! I can see the synergy.

  5. Hmmm… Get-rich-quick scheme whilst ignoring consequences of said scheme…

    Standard Tory policy for pretty much anything really.

Comments are closed.