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Spotify Ads May Have Served Malware To Your PC

Spotify Free opened "questionable website pop-ups" in browsers without users even having to click.

Last updated on October 6, 2016, at 5:30 p.m. ET

Posted on October 6, 2016, at 1:46 p.m. ET

Spotify users are complaining that Spotify Free is infecting their browsers with malware via ads on the music streaming site. The virus opened “questionable website pop-ups" on browsers, as Spotify called them in a reply to a request for help.

The issue has affected Mac, Linux, and Windows users, the BBC reported. Spotify Premium subscribers, who pay for the service, do not see any ads and were therefore not vulnerable to the attack.

Spotify user Titaviana’s Spotify application. Other Spotify users responded to her complaint by saying she should reinstall the application to get rid of the unsightly banner ads. She made her complaint in June 2015.
Spotify user Titaviana / Via community.spotify.com

Spotify user Titaviana’s Spotify application. Other Spotify users responded to her complaint by saying she should reinstall the application to get rid of the unsightly banner ads. She made her complaint in June 2015.

Spotify user "tonyonly" posted on the Spotify Community page, “There's something pretty alarming going on right now with Spotify Free. If you have Spotify Free open, it will launch - and keep on launching - the default internet browser on the computer to different kinds of malware / virus sites. Some of them do not even require user action to be able to cause harm.” According to tonyonly, the ads do not require clicks to infect users’ computers.

Spotify responded to the tonyonly saying it had shut down the issue and that only a small number of users had experienced difficulties. The company called the incidents “isolated.”

Other users voiced their concerns on Twitter:

@SpotifyCares Yesterday the Spotify Free software started launching malware on my Mac's Safari on its own. Many have the same experience atm

PSA: uninstall Spotify free, their ads are plagued with malware right now.

Had a malware on my ubuntu desktop that kept opening random ads on my browser every minute. Luckily @Spotify client was easy to uninstall.

The BBC reported that maladvertising appeared on Spotify in 2011, the year the streaming service launched in the US, and hit users with the Blackhole Exploit Kit, a type of Trojan Horse virus. Users saw malware-infected advertising banners within their Spotify applications that then ran malicious code within their browsers. Spotify later apologized for the problem.

Why has my virus scanner blocked an exploit threat from @spotify? Naughty spotify, what are you trying to do?

Malware being delivered by Spotify Free is nothing new, and that's why I stopped using it. Same thing 5 years ago: https://t.co/n2nzQAMcuo

Maladvertising isn't the only gripe people have with Spotify's advertising. Users have complained on Spotify's community page of too many ads, repeating ads, and seeing ads even after paying for Spotify Premium.

'Hey wanna break from the ads? Watch this video to get 30 minute free music' makes me wanna kms @Spotify I know I'm poor ok

. @Spotify 30 minutes ad free only got me half way to class on a 20 minute walk. Something isn't adding up.

SPOTIFY YOU SAID 30 MINUTES OF AD FREE MUSIC PLAYED ONE SONG THEN WENY BACK TO ADS!! WTF?!?!

Austin Kramer, global head of dance and electronic music at Spotify, said at a recent conference, “Our ad team is building ways for the free product to be profitable," suggesting that Spotify is searching for new ways to serve users advertisements. Spotify, which claims 40 million paying subscribers and 100 million active users, is not yet a profitable business.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Spotify reiterated its message to users.

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