Old Vidme embeds turn into a porn center after domain purchase

Here’s (yet another) argument against using third-party embeds on your respectable website: Porn company 5 Star HD Porn bought the expired domain for video hosting site Vidme, which went out of business in 2017. This means that all websites with Vidme embeds now contain porn. According to Motherboard, who reported the story first, includes the list of websites with unexpected porn inclusions: New York magazine, the Washington Post, HuffPost, and others. And yes, we discovered such an embed on The edge and have since disabled it.

Old Vidme Embeds Now Redirect to a Porn Site

It’s an extreme example of link rot, which happens when online content or images are removed or otherwise broken so that the links don’t point to their original goals. We saw another widespread example of this after former President Trump was banned from Twitter in January for inciting a riot in the Capitol. The thousands of tweets the former president sent over the years he was on Twitter have been wiped out and all embedded tweets now appear as empty gray boxes. Some of the former president’s tweets must be kept under the Presidential Records Act (which predates Twitter by more than four decades), and there is a sortable archive of most of his tweets built by an independent developer, so his tweets haven’t completely disappeared from the internet.

Most social media platforms have enabled embedding of their content; Twitter-triggered embeds in 2012, and Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram all allow some version of embeds. Reddit has a choice on the embedded content that allows users to delete them if the post is edited.

Used properly, embedded content can help illustrate a blog post or news story online and provide a credible layer. But when the links go bad, as they apparently did in the Vidme case, dealing with thousands of inclusions not going where they’re supposed to be can be a serious headache.