|Microsoft Takes a Swing at Google's Gmail Advertising|
Personally, i'd rather see Microsoft concentrating on innovating, than spending money like this.
|Outlook.com launched Don’t Get Scroogled by Gmail, a national campaign at [scroogled.com...] to educate Americans about Google’s practice of going through the contents of all Gmail emails to sell and target ads. According to a public GfK Roper study, commissioned by Microsoft Corp., 70 percent of consumers don’t know that major email providers routinely engage in the practice of reading through their personal email to sell ads — something that 88 percent of people disapprove of once they are informed. Unlike Gmail, Outlook.com doesn’t go through the content of users’ emails to show ads. Outlook.com hopes this campaign will help educate consumers about Google’s email practices and promote Outlook.com’s policy of prioritizing the privacy of its users’ emails. |
To help consumers have their voice heard, today Outlook.com launched a petition to help them get the message to Google that going through personal email messages to sell ads is unacceptable. Outlook.com encourages consumers to sign the petition at Scroogled.com and tell Google to stop going through their emails to sell ads. Outlook.com encourages consumers to prioritize their privacy by switching to Outlook.com.Microsoft Takes a Swing at Google's Gmail Advertising [microsoft.com]
I have no particular brief for Google or Microsoft, but if GMail users object to advertising, then seek an alternative medium.
One long time forum I'm on, switched over to Google Groups Mail, some time back for logistical reasons and I haven't seen any ads on that one.
It would be naive to think that any email company isn't scanning/saving your email messages for reasons other than the one you want. If it has sensitive information it does not belong in email or text message, or voice message or even by cellular phone.
Most of my emails just aren't that interesting, unfortunately. :)
It’s not your naiveté or switching but whether they should be allowed this privilege to begin with. We need a new “hippie” generation. Those people had some fire in their bellies. I see to much "go along to get along" now.
i agree with sgt
>>It would be naive to think that any email company isn't scanning/saving your email messages for reasons other than the one you want.
infact more so, i'd say it was naive to think that anyone providing a FREE service is doing so out of the goodness of their heart! ... eg. all social media etc.
I find it "low" from MSFT to do this. But we've come to expect that from them, playing dirty is their style.
As far as GMAIL goes: if you object to the ads: switch to google apps for business and you do not get ads.
And if you think that hotmail, bing and all other online free stuff from MSFT all do not track you to get more bucks out of advertising, then think again.
As far as hippies go: if you use gmail you're already getting a free ride. Stop whining.
And if you think that MSFT is really going to let you have ad free access to world class web mail service that's costing you nothing. Then think again: they only will do so as long as they can capture more market share and push out competitors. If they ever have a significant market share it will not remain free. It simply is not in MSFT's culture to be generous.
I use a bunch of Google Apps accounts (most free, one paying domain). Before I switched I simply could not cope with email anymore due to the amount of spam I was getting. Filtering -even commercial stuff- did not work for me anymore. I easily got 10000 spam messages a day - sometime I got that amount in a manner of minutes.
Google made email usable again for me.
And like some noticed above: If MSFT is not scanning the incoming email for spam then it's unusable. So if I'm too cheap to pay Gogole to remove the ads: sure they can show them - no hard feelings. Yes they machine-read all my email, and I *want* them to do that as I need them to get rid of all the spam I get. And so far they have the best anti-spam filtering around by far. I need low rates of false positives and low rates of false negatives both at the same time. Google's tech outshines anything in this.
Don't forget that email that gets into your Gmail, Hotmail, whatever free service used, account from other people on the web is also read by Gorg, MSFT and such. Give it a thought.
Your hosting account, most of us have one since we are here, includes email functionality. Learn how to use it. Stop being lazy or tell your supervisor at work that corporate email accounts are getting spammed, most likely will get a new email admin in that case.
Need to make a purchase/temp subscription somewhere? Create an alias. Done with it or for some reason staring to get unrelated mail into it from somewhere/someone else, disable it = no spam.
It's your data/intelligence info. Dont give it away if you don't have to, at least TRY NOT TO..
|Need to make a purchase/temp subscription somewhere? Create an alias. Done with it or for some reason staring to get unrelated mail into it from somewhere/someone else, disable it = no spam. |
And which is on your business cards ?
Wait till some spammer uses that one to send out a few million spam messages across the world.
Ah, you can't disable that email address.
And now you get
- thousands upon thousands of undeliverable messages; out-of-office messages in every language spoken on this planet; idiots asking. replying, and even outright threatening you; a truckload of cheap messages tellign you to go to a website to proof you're human and let the message into their anti-email (it's not worth the term anti-spam) system; automated anti-spam software replies; ...
- you get subscribed to a bunch of poorly run "mailing-lists", where more than often getting out of is very hard
- your main address is now added to all those that mine incoming email to send out more spam.
and every time they do it it gets worse.
i.e. it takes one spammer to get hold of an email address you do not want or cannot delete to make the entire scheme useless in a matter of minutes.
Been there done that -many years ago-. Net result: I've a truckload of old aliases I need/want to keep, but it fails to help in combatting spam in any way or shape.
As usual on a techie forum like WW, you folks are speaking from a technical perspective. Most techies not only understand how email works, but learned a long time ago that free email systems have big tradeoffs.
IMO, the average user is just now (during the past 8-15 years) realizing the security and privacy conditions present when using websites, emails, etc. I believe the average user, for many years, thought of computers/email/websites like any other device in their home. They were never concerned about privacy when they put a cake into the oven, or while turning on light switches. And they certainly did not worry about their televisions spying on them.
But most also did not understand how the Internet worked, or the footprint that each computer/email address generated.
I think many are just now realizing that the Internet doesn't work like a microwave oven where no one (unless they are sitting in your kitchen) knows about food you just heated. And when you tell them Google is reading their emails, it feels like a set of eyeballs peering back at them during their favorite late night show.
|70 percent of consumers don’t know that major email providers routinely engage in the practice of reading through their personal email to sell ads |
I would argue that the 70% that don't know can't care very much since the information is a) widely available and b) the #1 clue is right in your email interface every day.
This is sort of ridiculous. It's like... I don't know... Costco creating a site to let Wal-Mart customers know that Wal-Mart buys most of its goods from overseas. Anybody who cares about these issues already knows and anybody who doesn't know doesn't care.
|And if you think that MSFT is really going to let you have ad free access to world class web mail service that's costing you nothing. |
As Doc Searles says (did he coin this?): You're either the customer or the product and if you're getting something for free, you're not the customer. If you don't understand that, you deserve what you get. Personally, I like GMail, though preferably on my own domain so if something goes wrong I can redirect the address immediately rather than begin served entirely at the whim of Google. But I understand that I am selling the right to have ads displayed for me in return for, in my opinion, a great email interface.
I'm frankly more worried about the NSA and organizations like that reading my data. That's not because I *trust* Google, but rather because the Google business model is to automate and handle things algorithmically - so for selfish reasons, they don't want to have to look at my email. The NSA actually wants a person to get pinged if suspicious words appear in the content.
And don't forget, if you use a corporate email system, almost every company has usage agreements that allow them to read every email you write and hold you accountable for the contents. Using a corporate account for your personal business is, I think, much stupider than using GMail, and yet most emails I receive are from people on their work address.
Furthermore, if you're ever in a court case, all of your email is subject to subpoena no matter who manages it (I know someone who was recently told by a lawyer "If you're feeling really upset about the case, don't say or write anything. If you absolutely can't contain yourself and have to rant about it, call me because then, and only then, the conversation will be covered by at attorney/client privilege and can't be subpoenaed).
Bottom line: if you have something to hide, don't discuss it an email, no matter who provides it.
The point is not that GMail gives you ads and Microsoft does't. You get ads on BOTH services. The difference that Microsoft is pointing out is that Google is mining your e-mail to sell their advertisements. That's true. It's not "low" for them to mention this.
You get ads in Outlook.com/Hotmail.com as well. However, MS is targeting the ads there from your Bing searching habits and any info provided at signup.
|I'm frankly more worried about the NSA and organizations like that reading my data. |
Then you should be concerned about Google which has a cozy relationship with the NSA; and it's not just about Chinese hacking issues.
It's a sign Microsoft is desperate but IMHO also that whoever comes up with these ad campaigns lacks any creative thought or maybe technical understanding. They should create a commercial that features you and the Google You, maybe Gyou. They should highlight all the thngs that make up the Gyou 'character'. Those would include the info in GMail, everywhere you've been with your Android phone, every site you've looked at as reported by Chrome, the G toolbar or G Analytics, thinks you've purchsed with Checkout, the dates and times of all the people you've called. This creepy (but not evil, of course!) Gyou character if scripted carefully would really get people thinking and get them to realize all the stuff that Google tracks, the massive profile on individuals they probably have in their net and how creepy that is. They could hire the people who created the Mac vs. PC ads and even team up with Apple on it. There aren't too many people or companies with the power, financial resources or ability to strike at Google these days but microsoft is one that could strike a blow if they got creative and put some thought into it.
@skibum: MSFT will track you just as much as Google does if you use their services instead of Google's. So a PC vs. Mac ad would feature two identical guys. And the difference highlighted here might be that the google guy has a small automated box that displays the correct ad based on one more parameter than Microsofts. But the difference is negligible in the grand scheme of things.
@celgins: do you really think MSFT isn't cozy with the US government agencies such as the NSA ? LOL.
|Then you should be concerned about Google which has a cozy relationship with the NSA |
Don't get me wrong - I'm concerned about both.
|@celgins: do you really think MSFT isn't cozy with the US government agencies such as the NSA ? |
Not to answer for celgins, but this isn't really implied by his comment. He's addressing my statement, not the MS versus Google question. The fact is, as we have learned, most phone companies, large ISPs and companies like Google and MS cooperate with the NSA, sometimes in a reasonable fashion and often not (as we found in the suits against the big telecoms). Every American company is covered under the PATRIOT Act and that act trumps the European protections such as the Data Protection Act and Safe Harbour provisions.
|U.S. law enforcement could use the USA PATRIOT Act on a U.S.-based organisation -- like Microsoft, Google, Intel or Amazon, for example -- to force its local subsidiary companies across the world into handing over user data to U.S. authorities. |
EU data once may have 'had to stay in Europe', but this is on the most part untrue. The Safe Harbor framework, designed to protect EU data in the United States, protects merely the transfer of data from Europe to U.S. soil. But as soon as it arrived on U.S. soil, Safe Harbor can be superseded by America's counter-terrorism law.
|I find it "low" from MSFT to do this. But we've come to expect that from them, playing dirty is their style. |
|Microsoft is pointing out is that Google is mining your e-mail to sell their advertisements |
Bill, if they held themselves to that simple statement I would say you're more or less right. That said, it's like one fast food chain criticizing another for having, say, preservatives in the fries. It may be true, but it's not like the other chain's food, other than the fries, is preservative-free or good for you.
In essence, the "facts" of the allegations are no different from what the Electronic Privacy Information Center ( [epic.org...] ) has to say. However, after exiting Chrome because the videos would not play on Chrome (oh the irony) and reading the sidebar quotes, I have to say I agree with Swa that this is "low". The way Microsoft presents this is sensationalist and they imply, without saying so, that there is this terrible invasion of privacy by letting a bot scan the emails between my wife and I for keywords. They clearly want people to believe that somehow private conversations between my wife and I could end up getting read by an actual person and they want people to feel uneasy about this. And yet it is WAY less likely for an actual person to read my email due to a Google employee doing so than due to a corporate IT person at my wife's company or an NSA agent doing so.
Google takes privacy very seriously, and your trust is important to us. Gmail users should know:
- Google does not share any email content or other personally identifiable information with advertisers.
- No humans read any email messages to target advertising or related information that users may see on Gmail.
- Users only see unobtrusive, targeted ads alongside their Gmail messages.
If I read this correctly, they do not guarantee that no humans read email messages, only that they do not read them for the purpose of targeting ads. Google needs to say something like "unless required by law, such as in the case of a subpoena, search warrant or invocation of the PATRIOT Act, no human will read any GMail messages for any purpose whatsoever". It would be nice to see that clarification result from this MS attack.
Now, EPIC contends that it's actually worse that a computer is reading my email, because a computer can scan an unlimited number of emails and retain all the information, but that I think is a separate debate.
Not irrelevant here is the pot calling the kettle black aspect. MS pretends they do not scan my email for keywords, even though they do.
How do I know that Hotmail and Outlook and every other service scan my email? Because they all have spam filters and those spam filters work in part by scanning my email for keywords! The difference is that they do not mine those keywords to sell me targeted ads. Their campaign implies that MS does not scan my emails at all and that is a lie!
There are legitimate concerns here, but the Scroogled website really upsets me for the distortions, sensationalism and pot-calling-the-kettle-black tactics (compare to the EPIC website which, actually surfaces far more facts/concerns about Google, but does so in a more factual, neutral tone). Furthermore, even if Google had iron-clad agreements, it doesn't mean that its system for collecting your personal data couldn't be accessed by Chinese hackers (as it was in 2009 0 - src: [siliconvalleywatcher.com...] ). So even if you trust Google, there are troubling implications of having that much data held by one company.
Unlike Swa, I no longer expect MS to play dirty. They've generally taken a fairly high (albeit often hamhanded) approach since getting slapped in the anti-trust suits. The companies I see leveraging near-monopoly positions these days are Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon. But here I see a troubling resurgence of the "old Microsoft" that will bend the truth and stop at nothing to hurt a competitor, including distorting facts in a way that hurts consumers. Yes, Google will push right up to the "creepy line" without going over, but I see MS here as pushing right up to the "lying line" without going over.
Ergophobe: had there been a like button, I'd have pressed it.
One thing: allow Google a bit of leeway to gain access for investigating and fixing technical problems.
I'm sure that's the reason for the open door that you expose.
I've still not seen any recent change to convince me. On the contrary:
|I no longer expect MS to play dirty. |
- this ...
- them not honoring the settlement they made with the EU "by mistake"
- their entry into the tablet space - how do you think it makes HP, ASUS and the like feel ?
I feel it's still getting worse. Add their failure to make a dent with Windows 8, with surface etc. and I'm afraid it will more than likely get them to go even further.
|One thing: allow Google a bit of leeway to gain access for investigating and fixing technical problems. I'm sure that's the reason for the open door that you expose. |
I don't want to have to guess. I want them to spell out the conditions under which they might read emails without my permission (if they need to read emails to debug, why can't they contact me?
@Swa66 - I guess you trust Google more and MS less than I do. I think ultimately it's neither here nor there. I am one of those people who doesn't understand why people have emotional attachment to companies, brands and sports teams. I trust *people* I know personally.
their failure to make a dent with Windows 8
Actually, that's incorrect. Windows 8 sales are 'on par' with Windows 7 90 days in, with more than 60 million licenses sold.
|@Swa66 - I guess you trust Google more and MS less than I do. I think ultimately it's neither here nor there. I am one of those people who doesn't understand why people have emotional attachment to companies, brands and sports teams. I trust *people* I know personally. |
Actually I trust based on experience and past interactions.
I've been hurt multiple times by people working for (and representing in their actions) Microsoft. So Microsoft has been bad to me personally and the companies I've worked for. They have done so by outright lying and misrepresenting themselves, their products and not following up on promises they explicitly made. And then I'm leaving out the rudeness and other personal insults I've received from them.
Google has never gone anything anywhere near that.
Guess this is slowly going too far OT - feel free to moderate it away for all I care.
|Actually, that's incorrect. Windows 8 sales are 'on par' with Windows 7 90 days in, with more than 60 million licenses sold. |
Let's wait and see. I'm stil convinced 8 will turn out to be the next me and vista.
The sales figures need to explained though:
- computer makers started much sooner to "ship" 8 than they ever did. But I'm still seeing new PC with 7 pre-installed on them, the 7 downgrade rights right there and a set of DVDs to "upgrade" to 8 in the box.
I'm sure it's used as a 7 machine for years to come, while msft will count it as a sale for 8.
- the widely announced price hike of upgrades to 8 will probably have resulted in people buying the upgrade in order to have it if and when they are ready to install.
Anyway that's the only way I can see why there's so little installed base of 8 so far without accusing them of inflating sales figures by other means (there are numerous: e.g. do you count stock at a reseller as a sold copy?)
|Not irrelevant here is the pot calling the kettle black aspect. MS pretends they do not scan my email for keywords, even though they do. |
Just to play devil's advocate a bit here... that's not the issue in this case. Every webmail and ISP that has AV or SPAM services looks at the content of your mail in some way. That's expected or understood in most cases.
The HUGE difference with Google is that they do scan your mail to focus their advertising. No other webmail service does this. The important difference is that when Yahoo, Microsoft or your local ISP scans your mail they are doing it as a service for you (to cut down on SPAM, etc.). When Google does it like this it is only to pad Google's own pockets and feed their advertising machine.
Even though Google does this with the best intentions, and it may be true that humans aren't reading our mail in most cases, how can we know that? Individuals are concerned about governments and corporations infringing on privacy rights so this is an approach that may have some effect for Microsoft.
The simple fact of the matter is Google scans our mail in a manner that other services don't. It's fair-game for MS or any other competitor to point out this out.
And I'll just add the fact that google themselves have said numerous times they NEVER "knowingly" delete ANYTHING once they have consumed it.
It's no wonder governments go to them as a source of information to violate the privacy of it's citizens.
It's no secret in this forum that I'm a strong advocate of privacy. In fact most developed countries of the world have branches of government setup to help their citizens protect their privacy. In research I haven't been able to find any such universal body for our American cousins? At best it appears it is relegated to each state individually? At worst, on the FBI's website, they claim if anyone objects strongly to privacy concerns it's because they have something to hide! Wow the governments of countries like Canada, U.K, Australia, New Zealand, probably most EU countries must be dumb then for helping their citizens to protect their privacy because according to the FBI any American complaining about it must be up to no good. Sad.
It's very obviou$ by now that the American executive branch is not going to rein in google which leaves it up to us individually. Realistically how much can any one of us do for ourselves -- not much I'm guessing -- I know I can't. The best I can do is make sure I'm not contributing to the problem by ensuring websites under my control are not going overboard tracking visitor behaviour.
I think Microsoft learned their lessons from years ago and the anti-trust judgements they got slammed with have made them change their ways. They aren't perfect but I think they are among the best qualified to help us push back against the likes of google and its repository of profiles. I've seen members here state that google doesn't "care about us personally" but rest assured that people chasing boogeymen do care about all that data that google scans and retains (forever) in emails.
I for one am very grateful for Microsoft putting up some of their profits in awareness campaigns like this to help us try to slow down the ridiculousness that google has become. At this point it might be for Microsoft's own selfish motive to try to increase their own market share but at least it will help bring about much needed awareness. My hope is that American corporations that have a stranglehold on the internet will wake up to the fact that just because their own country laws allow them to run freely doesn't mean that other civilized countries of the world have the same mentality. Many of them continue to violate Canadian privacy laws daily. I know it's just due to the nature of the internet being borderless. I'm also well aware that we are in the infancy of the internet and that a generation of us are the guinea pigs. Well for those studying me -- I protest against your all-out quest to turn the internet into a resource purely for commercial purposes. Find the balance. Leave a few stones unturned. Get your noses of people's mail google, and have the decency to realize when we delete mail in our inbox you should too (permanently).
The best third-party source that I can refer to that explains what I am saying here would probably be Mikko Hypponen on Ted(.)com -- a video titled Three Types of Online Attack. He is right when he says in the end it's not giving up our privacy that should concern us -- it's allowing ourselves to be controlled.
|Even though Google does this with the best intentions, and it may be true that humans aren't reading our mail in most cases, how can we know that? |
Actually, it's been reported that the opposite may be true.
|David Barksdale, a 27-year-old "site reliability engineer" with access to Google customers' private accounts, was fired after parents and children complained that he had used to the data to harass four minors, including a 15-year-old boy he had befriended. |
Google engineer fired for snooping on emails [independent.co.uk]
|The full version draws a portrait of a company where an engineer can easily embark on a project to gather personal e-mails and Web searches of potentially hundreds of millions of people as part of his or her unscheduled work time, and where privacy concerns are shrugged off. |
Data Harvesting at Google Not a Rogue Act, Report Finds [nytimes.com]
From a technical perspective, Gmail is a great service. At the same time to be ignorant of the potential implications of a third party having access to your email and published, legitimate reports of employees of that third party reading others' email is at best unbelievably naive.
I've always wondered when the first court case will happen alleging that Company A disclosed confidential information to Company B subject to a confidentiality agreement, and Company B disclosed it to a unauthorized third party by virtue of using Gmail and it was discovered that an employee of Google read the email.
|Not irrelevant here is the pot calling the kettle black aspect. MS pretends they do not scan my email for keywords, even though they do. |
Scanning email for viruses and spam is a legitimate, industry accepted practice and has been for 15 years. You would expect Microsoft (indeed, any mail service provider) to do this, and arguably accuse them of negligence if they didn't.
Microsoft and Google have a very different culture of responsibility around user-data privacy. That's the important point.
|The HUGE difference with Google is that they do scan your mail to focus their advertising. |
Understood - and that's the root of the EPIC complaints that I linked to. What I resented in the Microsoft videos and quotes is the way that they, through carefully choosing their words, imply a lot of things that are not strictly speaking true.
I don't deny that there is a fundamental difference between scanning emails for spam and scanning them to extract your interests and show you ads. Maybe "the pot calling the kettle black" was a poor choice of words, but I just found the campaign focused on hyperbole and fearmongering.
I have no problem with the same allegations as presented by EPIC or the NYT, but the MS campaign just angered me.
|Google does this with the best intentions |
Bill - no need to patronize me ;-) I don't believe that for second and you don't either. Google acts in the interest of the corporation and the shareholders. Insofar as treating users "right" (whatever that means) furthers that aim, they will. Insofar as it doesn't, they won't. Large organizations and groups - MS, Google, USA, any large crowd - have a way of convincing themselves that if they're doing it, it must be right and good.
Google is far down that road and in that respect I fear Google far more than I fear MS. But for me, the campaign would have been more effective with less hype and fearmongering and more hard-hitting facts. Like I say, I'm much more persuaded by the level-headed EPIC critique than by the MS campaign, but they are not aiming at people who understand, they're aiming at people who don't.
Heh heh...I even used italics on best intentions. ;)
I could certainly see how the MS campaign could rub you the wrong way if you knew about the technology being implemented and not just the political/moral/ethical issue that they're playing with here. They're not being even handed in their treatment of this point, but to a certain degree I think it's about time someone other than internet privacy advocates raised this issue, and this may be a better way to do it. Unfortunately, reasoned, balanced arguments and campaigns don't have the same impact as something argumentative and lopsided.
It may in fact be a better way. As I was writing my last, I was thinking that it's like negative campaigning in politics. Everyone says they hate it, but it is typically the best use of a candidate's money.
It occurred to me that I'm like the people who say they hate negative campaigning, but when we get in the voting booth....