I love Firefox. It’s pretty much the only Web browser I use.
I hate Tynt. If you’ve ever copied text from a Web page, then pasted it, only to find a mysterious “Read More:” link inserted at the end of the text you copied, you just ran headfirst into Tynt.
Each time a user pastes content from your website into an email, blog or website, we automatically add a URL link back to your site’s original content. When someone clicks that URL, they are directed back to your site and see the original content. This drives incremental traffic to your site when your content is shared without your knowledge while maintaining a consistent user experience.
It may well be a “consistent user experience” for me to have to hit the backspace key to delete the “Read more” link Tynt adds every time I copy a small block of text, but it’s a consistently annoying experience.
I appreciate the importance of reciprocal links. I understand the challenge to content publishers of having content lifted from their Web sites without attribution.
So before I get into details about this fix, let me be clear: If you copy Web content, attribute it. It’s the right thing to do.
That said, there’s a wrong way of getting people to do the right thing, and Tynt is definitely the wrong way.
I find having my simple act of extracting a quote from a Web page turned into a link-spamming takeover of my local machine to be far more disturbing than a tracking cookie or layer ad.
Don’t be messing with my clipboard. It’s mine, not yours. I will put into it what I want there, not what you want.
Fortunately, I was able to put an immediate end to Tynt’s “Read More” clipboard copy highjacking in Firefox with Adblock Plus, a highly popular add-in that does what its name suggests: Blocks advertisements, and other content, from displaying on a page.
How To Block Tynt In Firefox Via Adblock Plus
I don’t mind Web ads. In fact, on many sites, ads are quite useful. But I absolutely despise Tynt, so I went ahead and installed Adblock Plus specifically to deal with it:
- I installed AdBlock Plus from the link above.
- After restarting Firefox, I was asked to choose a “filter subscription,” which is basically a series of user-contributed rules that block various ads, scripts, images, etc.
- Because I don’t mind Web ads, I chose “Cancel.” Adblock Plus warned me that without a subscription, I would need to add any filters manually; I clicked OK.
- You can go ahead and add a filter subscription. The “EasyList” subscription is supposed to block Tynt’s functionality; however, I found that was not always the case. For example, the EasyList (English) subscription available at this writing did not block Tynt on MySpace.
- I selected Tools –> Add-ons, then clicked the Options button under Adblock Plus.
- I clicked “Add Filter” at the bottom of the window that came up.
- A “New filter” line opened.
- In the text box beneath, I entered *tynt* and hit the Enter key.
- A red exclamation point resulted, which indicated that the filter was a regular expression / too short to be optimized. I accepted that; the reason why appears below.
- I clicked OK on the filter editing window and Close on the add-ons dialog box.
And just like that, I have not been bothered since by Tynt’s annoying “Read More” hijacking.
The Alternatives Didn’t Work
There are a number of suggestions out there to put an end to Tynt’s activities. I tried most but found them wanting compared to my solution.
Block tcr.tynt.com via your computer’s HOSTS file: This was a popular suggestion. Many claimed it worked fine for them. But some Web sites — again, MySpace serves as an excellent example — aren’t stopped by blocking that one domain.
Tynt actually uses a number of subdomains to deliver its services; in some cases, the Tynt scripts run off the Web server you’re visiting. Since you can’t use wildcards in a HOSTS file, that means adding dozens of entries to the HOSTS file; and again, even that won’t stop Tynt if it is running off the local Web server.
Use the NoScript add-on for Firefox: Another option is to employ NoScript. But that is a nuclear solution; NoScript is pessimistic.
Unfortunately, I did not see a way to use wildcards with YesScript, which pretty much made it the same as the HOSTS file option; and therefore, it did not work, for pretty much the same reasons.
And for the record, I looked for Greasemonkey scripts (couldn’t find one), add-ons specific to Tynt (couldn’t find one), and even tried using Tynt’s purported global opt-out button (surprise: it didn’t work).
About That Exclamation Point In Adblock Plus
Which brings us to the warning Adblock Plus shows about the filter rule.
As previously noted, our filter uses *tynt* as its expression. This is basically an instruction to Adblock Plus to block all objects that contain the letter sequence tynt: scripts, images, cookies, HTML, whatever.
Adblock Plus is smart enough to know that this is a very broad stroke; it’s four characters long, and generally speaking, that’s a wide net to cast — a net that could well catch a lot of fish we don’t want to fry.
For example, suppose we used the expression *ding*, instead. That would catch over 900 different dictionary words alone, most likely removing content from the page that we actually want to see.
On the other hand, *tynt* catches zero dictionary words. Because that combination of letters is so rare — it almost exclusively applies to content we intend to block — the chances it blocks something we want to see is infinitesimal.
But Adblock Plus doesn’t know that, so it warns us.
Finally, I used *tynt* as the filter expression because I want to block not only scripts and content emanating from tynt.com, but to also catch local implementations of Tynt’s scripts and objects.
In other words, the entire Tynt clipboard hijacking solution could be installed on the Web host I am visiting. But the objects those scripts use are going to have to invoke the term tynt in calling objects or sending requests to Tynt’s servers in order to work; I am catching every time that happens with this expression, and putting an end to it before it begins.
All links in this post on delicious: http://delicious.com/dougvdotcom/killing-tynts-read-more-clipboard-copy-hijacker-with-the-adblock-plus-plug-in-for-firefox