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06/11/2008

Is Tivo being shady?

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 24-12So last night we posted a thing about Tivo pulling down a site that touts their affiliation with Focus on the Family. Then immediately after posting, we received word from many readers who were all like, "What the hell? The site still loads for me! Why ya bothering me with this nonsense, fool?"

We were very confused. We had tried to load the site on three different computers, on three different browsers. We had cleaned our Internet cache, cookies, and history. Yet still, every time we tried to load the Tivo/FOF site, it redirected us to a "Page not found" page. And our pal Jim Burroway over at BoxTurtleBulletin, who has also been following the Tivo/FOF "Superdad" controversy, was getting the exact same result.

Well, we're not 100% sure, but we think we might have kinda-sorta maybe figured out what's going on. And if we're right, then the findings would certainly force us to raise our eyebrows:

It seems that we are being redirected on the basis of our IP address. We figured this out because when we try to load the Tivo/FOF site via our iPhone connected to our Wi-FI network (therefore associated with our homebase IP address), the site will not load. However, when we go off the network and connect to the collective Edge net (therefore no longer associated with our homebase IP), we can load the site just fine.

But the question is why? What benefit would Tivo have in keeping us from this page? It's not an incriminating site. We had already seen it back when it would still load for us, and we were already aware that Tivo and FOF had an affiliation via the former's "Kidzone" service. So why would we all of a sudden be prevented from viewing the evidence?

And why are just some of us targeted? We've heard from other folks who have covered the Tivo/FOF controversy, and they aren't being redirected. But we certainly are, and it is certainly seems to be on the basis of our IP addy.

Thoughts, insight, musings?

**UPDATE: Alright, so now we're getting more and more reports from people being blocked, leading us to believe that it is more than just a targeted IP thing. But then again, we're still having the same thing with our iPhone -- it will load over the Edge network but not our IP-affiliated wi-fi.

Ugh, so frustrating! We just want to get past this so we can move on to the real question: Why is the site disappearing at all?

**UPDATE2: The "page not found" site has now been replaced with a generic Tivo site. Also, we've heard several other possibilities for the varying results we were all getting earlier, so our IP theory very well might be off-the-mark.

UPDATE, 6/13: Has FOF's overreaching led to Tivo changes? [G-A-Y]

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Your thoughts

It must be "god" redirecting your requests! He doesn't give a crap about starving children but this affront from you can't go unchecked.

But, I have heard similar stories that involved Homeland Security! Watch your back, man!

Posted by: Dick Mills | Jun 11, 2008 11:06:43 AM

I wish I were that unpopular among the anti-gay factions.

Posted by: KipEsquire | Jun 11, 2008 11:13:02 AM

Well Kip, this is one instance where I kind of hope my theory is wrong. I don;t want to believe that Tivo is actively targeting us. They've been cooperative up to this point, and I've been more than willing to (a) give them the benefit of the doubt, and (b) work with them to shed light on why any FOF affiliation is a bad idea.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 11, 2008 11:16:40 AM

I just tried from home, and got the page not found error. I had my partner try from his office (via copy/paste, so as to avoid the link from G-A-Y) and he gets the page not found error, too. Perhaps people who still see it are getting a cached version from their ISP?

Posted by: Mark | Jun 11, 2008 11:20:44 AM

i'm "blocked" too :-)

Posted by: Andrew Williams | Jun 11, 2008 11:21:47 AM

Not a geek, but good thought Mark. I am blocked too... and had some other problems and cleaned cache yesterday.
Anyway I still think someone needs to find the site be it on HRC stories, or PFLAG stories or somewhere where all these neat Dad's Day messages could be posted!

Posted by: LOrion | Jun 11, 2008 11:30:13 AM

LOrion: Both the Family Equality Council and Box Turtle Bulletin are posting "dad" stories.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 11, 2008 11:36:01 AM

I posted an email to their PR page yesterday, and am seeing the blocked page today. Coincidence?

Posted by: marc | Jun 11, 2008 11:42:15 AM

I just cleared my cache, and now I am getting the page not found error. Maybe they have removed it.

Posted by: Dick Mills | Jun 11, 2008 11:51:10 AM

I got the page earlier today before a meeting and now I can’t, maybe they really did take it down.

Posted by: Randy | Jun 11, 2008 12:20:26 PM

Although I am also "blocked" (I was able to access the site 10 a.m. this morning, I was able to get to the contest entry site through FOF's website.

In checking the forums for week #2 under 17, I found and entry entitled "My STUD dad - superdad". I took a screen cap of it but don't know how to upload it here.

It's odd how they won't allow LGBT families to enter, but yet they allow a MINOR to post how her dad is a "STUD DAD"?

If anyone is interested or LMK I kept the screen capture IF they should take it down.

Posted by: Kevin | Jun 11, 2008 12:30:28 PM

I have no problem getting to that site. Perhaps they block the IPs from certain regions of the country. Everyone knows that us guys from the midwest wouldn't do any of those gay things.

Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Jun 11, 2008 12:48:19 PM

The Edge network may just have a stale proxy server cache. As slow as Edge is, this is not surprising.

Posted by: Jay | Jun 11, 2008 1:21:44 PM

Yeppers . . .I'm blocked too.

Posted by: Gary | Jun 11, 2008 1:26:44 PM

I'm blocked too. However, I wrote them an email yesterday so maybe they're giving me the silent treatment too.

Posted by: Larry | Jun 11, 2008 1:29:17 PM

Page

Not

Found

I haven't covered it at all, nor have I e-mailed them.

Posted by: Evan | Jun 11, 2008 2:42:18 PM

They are probably not blocking you, I'm getting the Not Found error as well. If someone can still see it, they are probably seeing a cached version in on their desktop or in a proxy server.

TiVo still owes me an apology. Even if they did delete the page. I don't pay them every month to be supporting FOF.

Posted by: Gary | Jun 11, 2008 3:09:40 PM

Gary: Well the circumstances have changed since this morning. When we first posted, many people who had cleared their caches and cookies, or who had never visited the site in the first place, were quite able to see the original site. On his work computer, my partner was able to load up the site multiple times without incident.

But then around 10 or 11, something seemed to change. All of the emails we were receiving all of a sudden went from "I can still see it" to "I can't see it now." I can't pinpoint what exactly happened, but SOMETHING did.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 11, 2008 3:19:38 PM

Easy answer: when you request a web page, your request doesn't /always/ get sent over the internet to the server on which it (ostensibly) to be found. Instead, your ISP first checks to see if there's a copy of the page stored on an Akamai server at one of their local offices. If there is, then your request gets routed there to reduce bandwidth usage on the (expensive) backbone routes.

Sometimes it takes a while for updates to get pushed out to all the thousands of Akamai boxes. That's most likely what's going on here.

Posted by: Trey | Jun 11, 2008 4:20:10 PM

Just for the heck of it i did the Delete Files, and the Delete Cookies bit, on the same computer that i used to see the Tivo site this morning.

Well i used the link that you had on the story >> Focus on the scrubbed Tivo site <<.

http://www.tivo.com/promo/kidzone/fotf.html

On a new open window and i got the page as i seen it this morning. i did a refresh on it and then i lost it.
So sorry that i did not take a screen shot of it befor i did that now i can't get it back.

I will try it from home, and at the library.
I did take a screen shot of the morning one.

Posted by: Scott B | Jun 11, 2008 4:30:38 PM

Thanks for the insight, Trey.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Jun 11, 2008 4:55:45 PM

I tried to get the same page from the Tivo site at the library, and just got the, >> can't find page. <<.

It looks like it's now gone for good.

And i hope it never comes back in aney form.


Posted by: Scott B | Jun 11, 2008 7:07:55 PM

Try this:

Go to
http://www.sitesurf.net/

and type in
http://www.tivo.com/promo/kidzone/kzoffers.html

See what happens. Site surf is an browser anonymizer.

FYI, I can see the real page and copied it (and the source) to a pdf. I've never visited the site before, so it would not have been in my cache. But http://www.tivo.com/promo/kidzone/fotf.html redirects to the site above.

It's also using a javascript redirect, so if you disable javascript, it just sits there with different source code including a webtrends tracker id. (I doubt I can post that here, but it's in the pdf if you want it). I will e-mail the pdf to your contact address.

Posted by: me | Jun 11, 2008 7:18:00 PM

Okay, here are my results today...

9 am - Yes
11 am - No (Page Not Found)
8 pm - Yes

Huh?????

Posted by: Kevin | Jun 11, 2008 8:14:19 PM

I just got through and it has no mention of FOF!

Posted by: Randy | Jun 12, 2008 1:37:01 AM

Yesterday I was able to load the page with the FOF logo. Today the FOF logo is missing. How very curious.

Posted by: Musicguy | Jun 12, 2008 7:21:54 AM

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