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A domain buyout by a porn website demonstrates Link Rot is happening faster than ever
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You’re just drinking your coffee, catching up on the morning news and suddenly a raunchy video appears in the midst of a story about the latest NUC PCs from Intel. Coffee is spluttered, tablets are drenched and your morning is irreparably ruined.
This is what happens when embed services die, hundreds of videos that are slotted into news stories prior to 2017 are potentially going to be showing the latest videos from people not particularly related to what the New York Magazine offers.
Vidme was certain websites’ method of embedding videos, offering a model outside the Facebook or YouTube system to get video content to their users. Due to the domain expiring and being bought up by 5 Star HD Porn, any embed is now just displaying the whole website in the space where videos of political news once were.
Or a trailer for Deadpool, which I think Ryan Reynolds would find very on-brand.
Affected websites included The Washington Post, Uproxx, and various American state-based news sites like the Atlanta Blackstar.
While a very extreme case, this infestation of porn on websites that never intended for this to happen is a prime example of Link Rot.
Link Rot is a current issue plaguing the internet, destroying older content and people just generally letting things lapse to the point of it disappearing. While archivists across the internet are attempting to rescue portions of it via Web Archive (who host the incredible Wayback Machine), it is inevitable that some things will just be lost to time.
The great information machine is forgetting portions of itself or in some cases, progress destroying websites forcing them to change their entire platform before losing everything.
Examples recently can be found with highly popular – and a place you probably haven’t thought about for years – animation website, Newgrounds, which had to switch from the vulnerable software Adobe Flash, as Adobe planned to end support and kill it before it did any more damage.
If not for the mass conversion of everything on the website to a format more suitable for modern platforms, Newgrounds would be littered with dead pages.
We even see it on a regular basis via Twitter. The Verge used former President Trump’s suspension from Twitter to show how embedding Tweets has now resulted in multiple news sites just displaying empty boxes, but this happens for dozens of users and could in theory happen on this very web page!
Even the extremely expensive Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) which provide a user with a link that they technically own – even though anyone can view it – aren’t exempt to link rot, with Check My NFT now dedicated to providing a service to literally ping the NFT’s location to see if it lives. Meanwhile, Arweave, a decentralized file storage system is claiming to be a ‘permanent solution for any future NFTs and files – but comes with the catch of having to use ‘Arweave coins’, so go figure.