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Heinz Sends Users To Porn Site - Dec 2015

While the intentions were great, it seems Heinz slipped up, and in doing so are now in a situation where their Ketchup bottles bears a QR Code that links users directly to a German porn website called Fundorado.

Heinz Porn QR Code

So here was the plan, run a promotion that allowed people to create their own labels for Heinz Ketchup, and get people to the right website to do this by placing a QR Code on each bottle of ketchup that links the person scanning the code to the relevant webpage.

And this worked well... for a while. Until Heinz forgot to renew the domain license for the domain name encoded in the QR Code on tens of thousands of bottles. And a German porn website snapped up an opportunity, i.e. purchased the domain. So now, anyone with one of these bottles who scans the QR Code, even though the promotion has ended, is still directed to a perfectly valid domain, full of adult material.

The error was pointed out to Heinz on their social media account along with this image. The social media post was also spotted by Fundorado who quickly cherped in with a cheeky response.

This does highlight some of the inherent issues with QR Codes. Firstly that as a provider of the QR Code, if you are linking to content and not directly encoding data within the QR Code, then you need to maintain that content for an extended period of time. And secondly as a consumer of the QR Code, you have no idea what is contained within a QR Code before you scan it. You therefore can’t check over a URL to ensure it's not taking you to something you don’t want to look it until after you have scanned it. More on QR Code security here

If you want to learn more about QR Codes, you should read What's A QR Code?

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Alternatively if you know the basics and want something a bit more technical, try The Technical Stuff