Mocality Should not Play Victim, they Also Scrape Data and Fake Listings

Posted In Web - By robertalai On Saturday, January 14th, 2012 With 13 Comments

Google is having a very hard time explaining what it was thinking as it scrapped data from a rival’s database. But that is not surprising because Google might be getting a barrage of calls from all major media houses in the world to get some explanations on the happenings and so it has to explain it. Getting calls is one thing but the scary part for Google’s always arrogant PR machine is that 90% of those calling already believed the Mocality story. Spinning that around might be very hard because few of the blogs and media houses would have the guts to say “our initial reporting was wrong. Google did not commit this.”

That effectively means that whatever Google decides to say about the whole fiasco, it must first admit liability in even a small part. The story is juicy for everybody, especially the scandal hungry blogs and media houses. It is juicy because Google is such a BIG company and because Mocality is looking like an underdog here. Nelson Mattos, Google’s VP of Engineering – EMEA Region, was admitting everything on his Google+ page (they also had to try to woo traffic to Google+).

First, I trust that what Mocality’s claims are well grounded and happening all the time. The only problem is that the people Google has been doing such things to does not have the influence and contacts to arouse the attention of the international media like the Naspers Group which Mocality is under. And the second problem is that Mocality is not a victim but also part of the fraud. Guilty by association. read on.

Naspers Group is no small company. It is a leading multinational media group with roots in South African but its tentacles is spread and felt in almost all continents of this world. Naspers group which owns MIH Internet company (the mother company of Mocality)  has business interests in internet, print media, pay-tv and technology companies all over the world.

On Mocality operations in Kenya only and with no revenue structure, Naspers group has spent more than US $1 Million in just under two years to get its Mocality and Dealfish business up but earn nothing in return. Just like Stefan says in the blog post, you wont be surprised to find that MIH Interenet is biggest spender on online advertising in Kenya. The company also spend a great deal on TV, radio and physical banner display advertising in Kenya. MIH Internet has no clear strategy on when they will break-even or even start generating even an insignificant amount of revenue. It looks like it’s all charity now.

Before the Mocality vs Google fiasco, Mocality and Dealfish have been limping. However much Stefan and former Dealfish General Manager would want us to believe there has never been any differences between them, these people had a fight. Moses left Dealfish a very bitter man. He would want to show that he is not one who burns the bridges by consoling Mocality or MIH Internet (Mocality and Dealfish are under MIH Internet which is owned by Naspers Group) in hard times like this. The truth is that MIH Internet mostly poked Moses Kemibaro in the eye and he wasn’t happy.

One blogger, Kahenya, tweeted something worth noting;


MIH Internet had even to close one of its local offerings, Kalahari Kenya and Nigeria, because the businesses were not sustainable. Kalahari was part of the business of MIH Internet which could generate its revenue and pay its costs even if it was not making profit. The group shut it down because its main focus was traffic and they believed that the directory business and classifieds would get more people on its platforms than an e-commerce offering. So it decided to shut down what was starting to pay-off and leave two well marketed products but with no revenue to their names.

So when the opportunity to “smoke Google out” as a data thief presented itself, MIH Internet had to dispatch its General Manager who sits in South Africa to come and carry out the task himself. It presented an opportunity for Mocality to earn that publicity of being a start-up which is being brought down by a bully with huge amounts of money.

So the Mocality blog post has not been re-tweeted more than 6,000 times. The original reads and retweets from the sites like Guardian, The Verge, Mashable, TNW, The Register, Boing Boing, BBC, PC Mag, Venturebeat, Forbes and others provides a great publicity for Mocality. It might just be the lifeline for Mocality now.

It is not wrong to shout-out for help when you are being bullied but what should we do when you also bully others? MIH Internet’s own Dealfish has been scrapping listings from other classifieds portals in Kenya. The company has also not solved the issue of fake listings. Take for instance a search for Nexus from the system. That will draw almost 85% of very fraudulent listings which are posted by con men based in Asia, West Africa or Eastern Europe. The listings are not consistent in pricing nor even contact information provided.


When you go to motor listings, you will realise that Dealfish has more than 20,000 vehicle listings on its database and most of them are being updated every morning and almost at the same time. Dealfish is scrapping data from rivals to fill up its listings. There is no way a classifieds system will have 20,000 vehicle listings in Kenya and they are not reducing even when the year changes. Having more than 20,000 vehicles listed on its database means that a random call of 5 motor dealers in Nairobi would see 3 of the dealers saying they know Dealfish. That it not the case. So I believe that either most of the auto listings on Dealfish are duplicated or fraudulent or they are just data stolen from rival classifieds portal to fill up the pages.

Example – why are the listings almost at the same time?;

The classifieds market in Kenya is getting strong competition. Many players including South Africa’s Naspers, US-based Google, Swiss-based Ringier, internationally backed Kenyan player Cheki and a number of other South African players including BidorBuy, Junkmail, PNet and so on have recently entered the market. Two other players, Swedish media company Schipsted and India’s Verse, are expected to join the fray soon.

Unethical behaviour is being used in most of the verticals – jobs, real estate, auto classifieds and so on – to fight rivals. Most of the classifieds strongly believe that “volume of listings = success”. Google Trader, Dealfish and PigiaMe are all engaging in the mal-practises. You cannot monetize false listings, duplicate listings, scraped content from your competitors. If you use false listings or dirty tricks to get to an artificially inflated number of listings, it is impossible to then go back to ‘truth’ and ‘trust’ when you try to turn your business into an actual business that makes money. This article on Business Daily talks of almost the same issue.

The reasons Kenyans are not online and conducting e-commerce is precisely because they do not trust the internet as a medium. So for these players to be pursuing a strategy of ‘let’s con Kenyans into believing we have more ads than anyone else’ is a total fail as a strategy in that they are undermining the industry as a whole not to mention their own future ability to have a profitable business.

Mocality or MIH Internet group should not shout how they are the victim here. They are very much part of the fraudulent system. They con users and it is eroding trust. I am so certain that Mocality did not get 100% of their data from its own efforts. And most of the data looks old. Most of the time I find Kenya Plex reliable.

About - Robert is an African Tech Blogger, Critic, Net Evangelist, Speaker, Mentor for Young Boys and Girls, Editor @TechMtaa and likes to Provide Sanitary Towels To Poor Women through the DishAPad Initiative

  • Josiekamwega

    Dude talk is cheap,like mocality please give prove of your accusations,n why the hell would Google bother with fake listings…………………….????

  • Incredible, this is very positive criticism !!

    • Sijuinijiite™

      Reuben, don’t just spew complements without knowing the facts. This guy is said to be in bad blood with Mocality hence the name tarnishing. There is nothing objective here. Moving on swiftly.

  • Munyua Ndegwa

    Are you in any way associated with! Are you fighting for Moses or do you have any issues with Mocality? All your posts on Mocality and Dealfish are always in a negative light. I agree with you that the issue of fake listings is grave, but Google trader and other listing websites suffer from the same. I admire what Mocality did with their crowdsourcing. I live in Nakuru and benefited from the Mocality project. I also did help a number of youth’s who had sat for their KCSE exam earn something from the Mocality programme. Mocality has contibuted to the uptake of online business listings in rural Kenya. The crowdsourcing enlightened many small business owners (most of the informal) on Internet Directories. One of my fellow constituent got a deal from Saboti MP to make a fish meal mixing machine through Mocality. Is that not empowerment?

  • Sebastianwema

    You miss the whole point. The issue was not about scrapping content, the issue was Goolge Representatives calling Mocality listed business and claiming fake association with Mocality. People who called thought it was mocality rep they were dealing with when in fact it was a Google rep. Now that is dirty.

    • Sebastian, I have done business in Kenya and not just business but classifieds business. There is no way you will get 20,000 listed cars online in Kenya. This is Kenya not South Africa. The motor industry in Kenya is still not that developed and internet penetration is in its formative years.

      Dealfish has been gettingg data from auto-classifieds sites and others from notice boards to fill up its pages.

      I use Dealfish for classifieds and have nothing against it but they need to clean their nose before pointing the nose of others. I have approached both Stefan and former GM, Moses Kemibaro, with the wrong listings or duplicated data but they find its easy to measure their success on fake listings

      •  I once was able to access a number of accounts some times back, because they send a certain open link to the account holder and client >> shitty platform

  • Gerd Naschenweng

    I think your comments regarding the large amount of classified listings is not properly researched. It is common business practice to syndicate content from B2B businesses. At we syndicate close to 130,000 car and property listings daily.

    Individual estate agents and car dealerships will place ads with property and classified portals which in turn increase exposure by providing automatic data-feeds to 3rd party- and whitelabels.

    The Google issue however is more concerning than your allegations of Mocality scraping data.

  • There are three distinct issues here – 1. stealing competitors listings without permission as a strategy to get to a stronger market position  2. Artificially increasing the published volume of ads by tolerating fake listings and deliberately tolerating mass duplication of ads. 3. artificially growing ad volume by leaving genuine listings on the site for a longer time so that the content being advertised is not actually for sale right now. 

    All of these are highly ethically questionable in that people doing this are deliberately deceiving the very consumers they are trying to attract in the first place. 

    Most of the players are doing at least two of these.

    I’m happy to state for the record that is not – and will never be – involved in any of these three deceptive activities – in fact we were the only car classifieds website to comply with the law in removing 2004 cars for import from the site on January 1st 2012 which cost us 2,000 ads.  

    I totally agree with your point Robert  that it is in the interest of all the players to ensure they’re adhering to values and standards that build long term consumer trust in the industry as a whole. 

    Otherwise everyone is gong to lose. 

  • Theater2

    i receive this fake post to my Turkish website too, its a robot if you dont want you should moderate all your content

  • People just hate the truth and that will never stop us from telling them. Mocality should not cry like they are not culprits

  •  Scrape scrape scrape…..why dont you scrape my blog I dont mind a lil traffic myself.

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