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Mousetrapping is a technique used by some websites (usually pornographic
Pornography or porn is the explicit portrayal of sexual subject matter for the purposes of sexual arousal and erotic satisfaction.Pornography may use any of a variety of media, ranging from books, magazines, postcards, photos, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, film, video,...

 websites) to keep visitors from leaving their website, either by launching an endless series of pop-up ad
Pop-up ad
Pop-up ads or pop-ups are a form of online advertising on the World Wide Web intended to attract web traffic or capture email addresses. Pop-ups are generally new web browser windows to display advertisements...

s—known colloquially as a circle jerk—or by re-launching their website in a window that cannot be closed (sometimes this window runs like a stand-alone application, and the taskbar
In computing, a taskbar is a bar displayed on a full edge of a GUI desktop that is used to launch and monitor running applications. Microsoft incorporated a taskbar in Windows 95 and it has been a defining aspect of Microsoft Windows's graphical user interface ever since. Some desktop environments,...

 and the browser's menu
Menu (computing)
In computing and telecommunications, a menu is a list of commands presented to an operator by a computer or communications system. A menu is used in contrast to a command-line interface, where instructions to the computer are given in the form of commands .Choices given from a menu may be selected...

 become inaccessible). Many websites that do this also employ browser hijackers
Browser Helper Object
A Browser Helper Object is a DLL module designed as a plugin for Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser to provide added functionality. BHOs were introduced in October 1997 with the release of version 4 of Internet Explorer. Most BHOs are loaded once by each new instance of Internet Explorer...

 to reset the user's default homepage
A home page or homepage has various related meanings to do with web sites:* It most often refers to the initial or main web page of a web site, sometimes called the front page ....

. Other definitions of mousetrapping and related practices are found at Mousetrapping and Pagejacking.

One way to end the cycle may be to use keyboard shortcuts (like Alt+F4 in Windows) instead of the mouse to close the windows. Multiple windows can be closed quickly with this method, although it may not always work if there is a resident program which is opening them.

The Federal Trade Commission
Federal Trade Commission
The Federal Trade Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1914 by the Federal Trade Commission Act...

 has brought suits against mousetrappers, charging that the practice is a deceptive and unfair competitive practice, in violation of section 5 of the FTC Act. Typically, mousetrappers register URLs with misspelled names of movie stars and pop singers, for example, BrittnaySpears.com or companies, for example, BettyCroker.com and WallStreetJournel.com. A catalog of examples of URLs that one mousetrapper registered, which then became involved in ICANN Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution proceedings, is available at this link. Thus, if someone seeking the Betty_Crocker Website typed Betty_Croker, the person would become ensnared in the mousetrapper's system. Once the viewer is at the site, a Javascript or a click induced by promises of free samples redirects the viewer to a URL and regular site of the mousetrapper's client-advertiser, who (the FTC said in the Zuccarini case) pays him 10 to 25 cents for capturing and redirecting each potential customer. An FTC press release explaining why it opposes mousetrapping states:

Schemes that capture consumers and hold them at sites against their will while exposing Internet users, including children, to solicitations for gambling, psychics, lotteries, and pornography must be stopped. [Statement by Timothy J. Muris, Chairman of the FTC]

Some major, well-known U.S. corporations have used mousetrapping to keep viewers on their Web Pages. A partial catalog and links has been provided. (These sites do not contain pornography.)

External links