Slideshare

2020/02/23

Slideshare is an insidious, bug-ridden, ad-infested piece of shitware. It does not even make good material for a bonfire, because burning it would leave a corrosive cloud of dust that would easily sterilize half the planet. Earlier, this personal site had embedded Slideshare presentations, but not anymore; I have taken all those down, and now I simply host the slides myself. Sorry for any visitors who might have come across those embededdings. Please purge your cookies and browser cache from any traces of Slideshare decay.

Slideshare's mission is not whatever they say their mission is, which I won't even bother reproducing here, as that would be rather pointless. Their mission is to exploit people's privacy. This is evidenced by the network interactions induced by a Slideshare embedding on a site (please also note that I am not endorsing the Chromium spyware here; I use Chromium as a vanilla browser for this kind of analysis):

Slideshare-slides-network

It's easy to see how people are being tracked. I mean, the slides literally download a resource called track. Also, that one-pixel tracker named 1x1.gif?cb=unique-ID, or any of the other resources with a unique ID passed as a URL parameter for that matter.

Slideshare also employs dark patterns wherever it can. Unsurprisingly, it does so in its account deletion process. You cannot just delete your account, you obviously need to pretend that to want to change your password first:

Slideshare-delete-account

The fact that account deletion needs a manual says it all. They do at least ask whether the instructions were helpful:

Slideshare-helpful

Unfortunately, the only two possible choices are "Yes" and "No", there is no choice for the canonical "Fuck you". And no, "Fuck you" is not an "applicable reason for deleting your account" either.

Prior to deleting my account, I made sure to download all of my slides. You would think the files would be named the same way I named them when I uploaded them, right? Of course not; Slideshare inserts unique identifiers in the file names prior to handing the files back to you:

A quick scan of the PDF files does not show any tracking IDs in the files' metadata. But I am also not very familiar with the PDF file format, so it's possible they hid them somewhere I did not look. If anyone is interested, you can inspect one of these PDF files here.

Another side effect of hosting the slides myself is that the relevant pages on this site now load much faster. On the first screenshot above, the page loaded in 2.37s. But a more usual load time was around 12s, with the slides downloading network resources in the background even 52s into the page view. I would have taken more samples for analysis were it not for the fact that I had already deleted my account.

So good riddance to that Slideshare infestation, I now host the slides myself. Please also be kind of my server when downloading these files, I do not have a CDN :)