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Microsoft: the 'Scroogled' Show Must Go On

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the campaigns-everyone-forgot-about dept.

Google 286

theodp writes "Microsoft says that the death of its 'Scroogled' ad campaign against Google has been greatly exaggerated. 'Scroogled will go on as long as Google keeps Scroogling people,' said a Microsoft spokesperson. 'Nearly 115,000 people signed a petition asking Google to stop going through their Gmail.' So, is Microsoft's scare campaign justified? Well, in a recently-published patent application for a Method and System for Dynamic Textual Ad Distribution Via Email, Google explains how its invention can be used to milk more money from advertisers by identifying lactating Moms, which might make some uneasy. Google also illustrates how advertisers can bid on access to those suffering from breast cancer, bi-polar disorder, depression, and panic anxiety. Hey, what could possibly go wrong?"

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Reminds me of this story (5, Informative)

jawtheshark (198669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077725)

Google explains how its invention can be used to milk more money from advertisers by identifying lactating Moms, which might make some uneasy

How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did [forbes.com] .

All in all, that technology isn't all that surprising to me....

Re:Reminds me of this story (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077889)

Outside of online tracking they found between the times of 6:00 - 9:00 there is a sales influx of beer and dipers at the same store.
There is a mountain of stats that can track you in many different areas.

Re:Reminds me of this story (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078223)

I don't understand... if you're doing any analysis at all that has to be the easiest thing you could possibly try to determine. Pregnancy test gets purchased and the following month feminine supplies and/or birth control stop getting purchased. That's trivial, and worth coding in specific rules for simply because of the amount of potential sales a pregnancy will generate.

Re:Reminds me of this story (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078275)

Google explains how its invention can be used to milk more money from advertisers by identifying lactating Moms, which might make some uneasy

How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did [forbes.com] .

All in all, that technology isn't all that surprising to me....

If knowing when chicks no longer need birth control is wrong, I don't want to be right.

I'm impressed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078329)

That you were able to recall that, find the post and type that all in the 4 minutes since this was posted.

Re:I'm impressed (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078389)

People with consistently high ratings get to see articles ahead of everybody else sometimes. I see a few a week, they're in red and you generally get about 15 minutes before it goes live to everybody else.

What could go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43077733)

If you read the article 'what could go wrong', you have to admit that...nothing got wrong. Except that some people did something which some people 'from the government' didn't agree with. That's not much 'wrong' to begin with...

Re:What could go wrong? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43077765)

You may not consider it "wrong", but many people aren't as happy as you are to have large multinational corporations rummaging through their underwear.

Re:What could go wrong? (2)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078381)

Do you even know what they said went wrong? Basically the government doesn't want Canadian pharmacies selling in the US in the name of "consumer protection". I sure hope it's worth it, because that protection makes us pay out the ass for drugs since there's no competition.

You can thank government regulation for why we pay higher prices on drugs. Yeah, "big pharma" can lobby for it, bit ultimately it is people like you and I who vote for the politicians that tell the police to enforce it. When libertarians like myself rail against regulation, this is exactly what we're talking about.

Is it possible that buying abroad can result in getting tainted drugs with heavy metals or other contaminants? Absolutely. However I can take it upon myself to determine who I will buy from that I know will avoid these problems while saving money in the process.

Re:What could go wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078283)

And yet, if you flip it around, and the government does it (but doesn't "go wrong with it") a lot of people will argue against it because the Government *could* do something wrong. Are you one of those people with those double standards?

At least the government is "ostensibly" in the position of helping the general public (even if it fails at times). Companies aren't even ostensibly in that position, they are in the position of making any profit they can get away with, no matter who the screw.

It's not just the government who's against this, it's also the people. This happens to be one of the cases where the government intervention is trying to protect the general public.

Personal medical information (2, Insightful)

Grand Facade (35180) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077759)

That cannot be obtained from your doctor, and Google is going to sell it???!!!!!

This is not going to end well.

We all thought Big Brother was the Govn't, it's looking like Google is who we have to watch out for.

Re:Personal medical information (2)

ggraham412 (1492023) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077807)

Google explains how its invention can be used to milk more money from advertisers by identifying lactating Moms, which might make some uneasy.

Is that what Sergey Brin is looking for with his Google glasses?

Re:Personal medical information (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43077813)

For one, Big Brother was, possibly, inspired by a company called Bennett's. So it might just be coming full circle.

Second, Big Brother can be anyone, anything, in power if we aren't careful. It can be the government, it can be corporations, it can be unions. Anytime a group has the potential for large amounts of control, ability to spy on participants, and ability for the leadership to be corrupted Big Brother will be there.

Re:Personal medical information (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43077841)

except it isnt.. Google isnt selling you access to a persons information, they are selling you access to a target audience, the same thing MS does. There is nothing identifying about it.

Re:Personal medical information (5, Interesting)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078187)

the same thing MS does

The elephant in the room.

Kind of amazing that microsoft has had the nerve to go after Google's privacy practices, when its own regarding Bing generally arent as good. AFAIK Bing / MS Mail (whatever its called now) has historically scanned email in the same way as google, and the whole point of Bing is to datamine for advertising.

Re:Personal medical information (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078337)

the same thing MS does

The elephant in the room.

Kind of amazing that microsoft has had the nerve to go after Google's privacy practices, when its own regarding Bing generally arent as good. AFAIK Bing / MS Mail (whatever its called now) has historically scanned email in the same way as google, and the whole point of Bing is to datamine for advertising.

Bing Bing Bing! We have a winner! Related: http://media.fukung.net/images/3895/Pot%20Kettle%20Black.jpg [fukung.net]

Re:Personal medical information (2)

Sez Zero (586611) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078423)

The elephant in the room.

Kind of amazing that microsoft has had the nerve to go after Google's privacy practices, when its own regarding Bing generally arent as good.

Exactly. My favorite is the quote:

Scroogled will go on as long as Google keeps Scroogling people,' said a Microsoft spokesperson

You hear that splash, too? Yes, it is the sound of Microsoft jumping the shark.

Re:Personal medical information (3, Informative)

Branciforte (2437662) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077879)

Google does not sell personal information to third parties. And they never have.

At worst, they will use this as a signal to match ads to users.

Re:Personal medical information (2, Interesting)

Kwyj1b0 (2757125) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078119)

Google does not sell personal information to third parties. And they never have.

At worst, they will use this as a signal to match ads to users.

So if you have a physical mail, and someone gets to read it and insert ads with it (without knowing who you are - say they aren't allowed to see the address), it would be fine?

While I get it that Gmail is "free", I also believe that certain expectations of privacy/regulations should translate from existing laws we have (or rather had) in place. No wiretapping? Then no reading my email either. Just changing the technology shouldn't require us to enact new rules and regulations.

Re:Personal medical information (4, Informative)

binarylarry (1338699) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078271)

Gmail isn't some mandatory service you have to use. Granted *Microsoft*, Yahoo and everyone else does the same thing.

If you're so paranoid, host your own email.

Re:Personal medical information (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078323)

Nor is snail mail. Nor is public transportation, or are private vehicles (and any particular dealership), nor is any particular brand, etc.

But when everyone is doing the same thing, and nobody stops them, and newcomers in the market can't resist the 'profit' perks from doing it (or can't offer some other nice option that the big names can). You suddenly have little/no choice in the matter, except going without. And this day in age, going without isn't always possible.

And yes, I do host my own email. And I have to deal with servers that block mail from other servers that don't allow reverse DNS lookups, because getting a setup where I have control over the system, and the ability to assign RDNS to my domain, is rather expensive or convoluted.

Re:Personal medical information (1, Insightful)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078289)

Mail has an expectation of privacy. You send it in an envelope.

Email does not have an expectation of privacy. The envelope icon on all the major GUI programs for email is incredibly misleading. Email is more like a postcard - the content is in the open, it can be read by all the postmen and guys at the sorting office. It's always been like this.

Google have always been open about processing your mail. It's right there in the agreement you click through when you sign up. People acting all shocked and shaken about it just reveal that they don't understand the technology and also enter into agreements they don't understand... perhaps they'd like to buy an iPhone?

This is one of the manifold problems with people not receiving an education about the technology they use.

If you want private email, now, as always, you need to hide it, which for email, means you encrypt it. None of the large commercial players, or the government, are going to educate you about this, because it threatens their power over you.

Re:Personal medical information (1, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078151)

The fact of the matter is, Google HAS the information, and shouldn't. Selling it would be a second crime. The post office doesn't read every letter I send through the mail to figure out which junkmail I'd like best.

Re:Personal medical information (2)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078299)

The post office could read every postcard I send through the mail to figure out which junkmail I'd like best.

Fixed that for you. Email is a postcard, not a letter. If you want electronic letters instead of postcards, you use encryption.

Re:Personal medical information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078437)

Displaying matching ads (or automatically personalize a site in other ways) will give information about a person to everyone who happens to see his/her computer screen. The problem isn't just what those companies share with other companies (if they do), the problem is they do the equivalent of blabbering to you about something you told them in confidence earlier without paying attention to who else is present. I'm not ok with that.

It happened to me on YouTube recently. I let my browser discard cookies when it's closed, and apparently that hadn't happened yet when I was looking for videos of a musician with a visitor. Several of the suggested videos were about a subject I consider private which I had looked into hours earlier, and which had led me to webpages with embedded YouTube videos. Thank you, YouTube, for telling my visitor all about that.

Re:Personal medical information (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077917)

Whether through malice, incompetence, or simple inertia, privacy law tends to exhibit a substantial lack of imagination in how it protects information.

A few professions with very long histories(doctors, lawyers, sometimes priests if your jurisdiction isn't so hot on church/state separation) who necessarily have access to privileged information in order to operate tend to be covered; but historically novel entities, or those who use novel inferential methods, tend not to be.

(In practice, I suspect that advertising sellers would also be happy to weasel-word it: "Goodness no, we don't sell consumers' medical information or records! We don't have those, and that would be wicked and naughty. We merely strive to match contextually relevant advertisements to people who might be interested in them. However, if you are interested in an ad-buy targeting customers who searched for 'how is babby formed', or 'breast cancer doctors boston ma' or 'signs of depression', please call our sales team!" That's where you are pretty doomed. When it comes right down to it, people absolutely bleed data about themselves in the course of their everyday activities, not merely when they explicitly tell their lawyer something or let their doctor conduct a test, and now we have the technology to piece together and draw inferences from all those little bits and pieces that people reveal throughout the day.)

Re:Personal medical information (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43077973)

That cannot be obtained from your doctor, and Google is going to sell it???!!!!!

This is not going to end well.

We all thought Big Brother was the Govn't, it's looking like Google is who we have to watch out for.

News at 10 - Ffffacebook formed a partnership with companies that sell data on people's pharmaceutical purchases. Though they obviously won't share that with Microsoft - who isn't a major shareholder of Ffffacebook.

Re:Personal medical information (4, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078185)

Google doesn't sell your info to companies. Google delivers ads to target demographics.

This is a very important distinction that many people (apparently yourself included) don't understand, and one that Microsoft is basically outright lying about.

They parse your email for keywords to determine which ad to show you, just the same way your email is parsed by a computer for a spam filter. And Microsoft does the same thing. They have contextual ads on their free email service as well.

Given that Microsoft is outright lying, they need to be called out on it.

Nice catch theodp (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43077767)

Those two patent drawings are plenty scary.

This reminds me of the late '80s, when people still identified IBM and AT&T as the big bad boys and were willing to give Microsoft (which seemed like a scrappy startup led by a shy kid with thick glasses and long hair) a pass.

Fast forward 25 years. Microsoft is the new IBM. Oracle is the new DEC. Google, Apple, and Amazon are the new Microsoft.

Re:Nice catch theodp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43077863)

Terrible links in the summary though. What exactly does that last link have to do with anything at all? You get sued if you knowingly engage in business with shady people. Regardless of whether it's selling advertising or food or cars or anything else.

Re:Nice catch theodp (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077941)

Inconveniently, while the new kids have grown up and gotten increasingly mean and creepy, that hasn't really stopped IBM and AT&T(or its larger post-breakup chunks) from still being the big bad boys. Team telco is still rent seeking, and IBM didn't build Watson to win at Jeopardy...

Re:Nice catch theodp (3, Funny)

buravirgil (137856) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078093)

Watson was built for Colossus to design next Summer's fashions. They'll have to be really smart this year. Vibrant colors shan't suffice.

Re:Nice catch theodp (1)

jamiesan (715069) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078493)

I thought they created Watson to design a computer for them that would answer the great questions about life and stuff.

So... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077787)

Is Microsoft working under the theory that (since they have other profitable areas of business, and Google basically doesn't) it will be wholly worth it if the can salt the earth under both Google and their own advertising efforts [microsoft.com] ?

Or are they making the best of a bad situation by advertising the inferiority of their analytics capabilities as a privacy feature?

Or are they simply hoping that mutually applicable accusations will stick to whoever they are made against first?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43077891)

Microsoft is betting that the techie community is dumb enough to fall for it and from the summary it looks like they are correct.

More Accurately (3, Insightful)

Y2KDragon (525979) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078293)

Since Google admitted they do that, Microsoft is pointing at that and saying how Google is bad for it. What Microsoft isn't telling anyone is that they are doing EXACTLY THE SAME THING (well, may not exactly, but darn near close to it), but isn't telling you they are. Thus, their results are "better" because they are sneaky about it.

Pot, meet kettle. (4, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077799)

And Microsoft isn't doing the same?

I'm all for informing people on what information they give to companies, and how those companies will use it. But at least don't be hypocritical about it.
Also, a huge part of the world doesn't care, as is obvious by their Facebook and Twitter activity.

Re:Pot, meet kettle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43077831)

Yes, at the very least, their spam filters are going through your mail...

Re:Pot, meet kettle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078343)

Just yesterday there was an article how Microsoft scans Hotmail messages for Child Porn and assists Law Enforcement.

Pot, meet kettle.

Scroogled, ha ha (5, Insightful)

tibit (1762298) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077815)

I don't know why people even believe in this shit. What, you are all seriously so naive as to think Microsoft is not doing the very same thing? That's the whole fucking reason they offer a mail service, for crying out loud! There is no money in it for them at all unless they extract information that can be monetized. If you want a usable enough service, there can't be nearly enough ads there to pay for it. Google and MS are doing the same, they just use a common tactic of pretending like they are very different. Large-scale free mail hosting is a financial loss unless you mine the data. The data doesn't even necessarily need to be sold to third parties, there are other groups within Google and Microsoft that use it. Just think of how big of a language corpus it gives both companies to develop their other tools on. Imagine you're a search engine or a translation service startup. You're at a big disadvantage to both MS and Google precisely because you don't have billions of sentences of text as your reference.

Re:Scroogled, ha ha (2)

DaMattster (977781) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077927)

I don't know why people even believe in this shit. What, you are all seriously so naive as to think Microsoft is not doing the very same thing? That's the whole fucking reason they offer a mail service, for crying out loud! There is no money in it for them at all unless they extract information that can be monetized. If you want a usable enough service, there can't be nearly enough ads there to pay for it. Google and MS are doing the same, they just use a common tactic of pretending like they are very different. Large-scale free mail hosting is a financial loss unless you mine the data. The data doesn't even necessarily need to be sold to third parties, there are other groups within Google and Microsoft that use it. Just think of how big of a language corpus it gives both companies to develop their other tools on. Imagine you're a search engine or a translation service startup. You're at a big disadvantage to both MS and Google precisely because you don't have billions of sentences of text as your reference.

The funny thing is, you're correct, they are naive. Ever know anyone to read the fine print? Ever know anyone to read all of the terms of service or service agreements?

Re:Scroogled, ha ha (1, Troll)

mystikkman (1487801) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077953)

Microsoft doesn't do personalized ads based on email contents.

http://www.neowin.net/news/microsoft-compares-outlookcom-to-gmail-and-yahoo-mail-releases-new-video [neowin.net]

Thanks for engaging in the Fallacy of Grey to deflect criticism of your favorite company, Mr. Google Shilll.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Continuum_fallacy [rationalwiki.org]

Re:Scroogled, ha ha (1)

tibit (1762298) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077991)

What a fine reading comprehension fail. I don't care if they do personalized ads or not, that's not the only way to use email contents for profit! Heck, I've even given some examples of how you might use it for other reasons -- where it does give you potentially huge advantage in terms of reducing costs.

Re:Scroogled, ha ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078077)

I'm sorry, but I don't really trust them on their word after all these years.

Per their privacy policies and ToS you still give them permission to do that, and they acknowledge that they do at least some ad-targeting [wired.com] :

Wired Gadgetlab reporter Alexandra Chang said the ads still seemed somewhat tailored to her: “When I was using Outlook.com, a bunch of gadget deals and one flower ad appeared, which seemed pretty accurate to my digital profile.” Bruce Hall, general manager of Windows Live and Internet Explorer, told her Outlook.com would rely on its newsletter filter, which grays out mailing-list messages you likely never read, to engage in some modest ad-targeting based on the newsletter’s sender.

Anyways, what's the big difference? "Yeah, we try to track your every move and build your private profile, _but at least we don't use your e-mail contents to do that!_"

Re:Scroogled, ha ha (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078247)

Microsoft doesn't do personalized ads based on email contents.

No, but online ad personalization isn't the main problem people are complaining about. The main problem people are complaining about is that companies collect vast amounts of personal data, and Microsoft certainly does that. In fact, Microsoft routinely collects even more information about even operations on your computer that appear to be completely local.

See http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Straw_man [rationalwiki.org]

Re:Scroogled, ha ha (1)

Lorien_the_first_one (1178397) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078107)

Given that Microsoft isn't alert enough to keep their SSL certificates up to date with Azure (one, among many other high profile failures), I trust Google more than Microsoft. In the end, I can only hope that my trust is well founded.

Message to advertisers (5, Insightful)

drapetomaniac (1379039) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077821)

If I was an advertiser and saw the Sgroogled campaign - the message to me is that Google has a better advertiser platform.

So why use it? (3, Insightful)

nukenerd (172703) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077823)

FTFA : -

Nearly 115,000 people signed a petition asking Google to stop going through their Gmail

So why the hell do they use Gmail? Here's a clue for them - use a proper email client.

Re:So why use it? (2)

foniksonik (573572) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077949)

Uh they aren't parsing your client, they're parsing your inbox... doesn't matter if you use gmail.com web or an app on a phone/tablet or Opera's/Mozilla's/Native pop mail client.

You won't see ads outside of the web client but your search results on google.com are impacted and banners you see on other websites (if they are managed by google) will be impacted.

Re:So why use it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078189)

Uh they aren't parsing your client, they're parsing your inbox...

Only if you've put your Inbox on Gmail. Don't like Google analyzing the contents of your Inbox? Then don't use Gmail!

Re:So why use it? (5, Informative)

mabhatter654 (561290) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077961)

ALL email is just POSTCARDS that anybody in the middle can read plainly. I wouldn't be surprised if the big ISPs were all doing it too. After all, it's not "private" until it passes through their servers into your assigned mailbox.

Re:So why use it? (2, Insightful)

bickerdyke (670000) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078121)

Email providers usually ADVERTISE that they're parsing and analyzing your email. They usually call it Spam-Filter or Virus-Scanner.

Automated text analysis != reading your mails

(please note. I'm not saying that automated text analysis never ever won't break your privacy. It may do so, but does not per se)

Re:So why use it? (2)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078169)

Many ISPs were caught using deep packet inspection services, not to check for viruses or spam, but to identify what their subscribers were looking at online so the information could be sold. Your ISP is doing it, Google is doing it, and I guarantee even Microsoft is doing it. If you move into the offline world, credit agencies do it too. They accumulate tons of data on you and then sell access to that data to credit card companies and other organizations. (Thus all those "You've Been Pre-Approved" offers you get in the mail.)

Re:So why use it? (2)

2phar (137027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078333)

Many ISPs were caught using deep packet inspection services, not to check for viruses or spam, but to identify what their subscribers were looking at online so the information could be sold

Citation please? (no really, I'm interested)

Re:So why use it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078209)

FTFA : -

Nearly 115,000 people signed a petition asking Google to stop going through their Gmail

So why the hell do they use Gmail? Here's a clue for them - use a proper email client.

Why the hell use Gmail instead of two ply toilet paper?

Re:So why use it? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078237)

So why the hell do they use Gmail?

Maybe they don't. Maybe they happened to e-mail someone who does use Gmail. So, their e-mail is scanned without ever accepting the Gmail T&Cs.

Better Scroogled... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43077827)

...than Microshafted.

Hang on... (5, Interesting)

Karellen (104380) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077845)

See also Scroogled by Cory Doctorow [craphound.com] (translations [craphound.com] )

Wow, Microsoft appropriating the name of someone else's pre-existing work in a particular domain, particularly when that domain is the criticism and commentary on a near-monopolist, and the original author is one of the most vocal and prominent proponents of copyright and other IP-related reform. I think my irony meter just exploded.

Re:Hang on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43077897)

Well if it's pissing of that professional attention whore then I'm all for it.

Re:Hang on... (1)

symes (835608) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078117)

Isn't it a contraction of Scrooge and Google? If so, then my personal feeling is Dickens might have something to say here.

Re:Hang on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078281)

Well, the scroogle web site (as in, first place that I was aware of the term) used it as a merging of "screw Google." Whether that infringes on the root poster's linked story, or whether MS is referencing either one are up for debate, as is also the question of whether a non-trademarked, obvious portmanteau is legally protected.

One word... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43077847)

Postcards.

Petittion of the Living Dead (5, Interesting)

number6x (626555) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077857)

A Microsoft sponsored petition had 115,000 signatures! That's probably more people than are using Windows 8.

Of course, we should double check and make sure all of those signatures belong to actual living people, and not dead people. MS has a history of fake grass roots campaigns involving dead people [nwsource.com] . You should all listen to your international corporate overlords and be outraged at being scroogled, but ignore the fact that Microsoft reserves the right to examine all of the data on your sky drive [wmpoweruser.com] .

It shouldn't suprise us that Microsoft products are so popular among the dead. After all, Balmer is one of the most brain-dead CEO's in the tech world. They used to be such a scrappy competitive company. Then the 1990's happened.

Re:Petittion of the Living Dead (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077911)

Well, the latter part of the 1990s at any rate.

Re:Petittion of the Living Dead (3, Insightful)

theVarangian (1948970) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077977)

A Microsoft sponsored petition had 115,000 signatures! That's probably more people than are using Windows 8.

Of course, we should double check and make sure all of those signatures belong to actual living people, and not dead people. MS has a history of fake grass roots campaigns involving dead people [nwsource.com] . You should all listen to your international corporate overlords and be outraged at being scroogled, but ignore the fact that Microsoft reserves the right to examine all of the data on your sky drive [wmpoweruser.com] .

It shouldn't suprise us that Microsoft products are so popular among the dead. After all, Balmer is one of the most brain-dead CEO's in the tech world. They used to be such a scrappy competitive company. Then the 1990's happened.

Asking Google to stop rifling through their e-mail is a perfectly reasonalbe request, as long as the people making that request understand that they will then either have to pay a subscription fee or that they will be told by Google to go someplace else where that feature is on offer. GMail is free because Google can rifle through your mail, harvest your personal data and sell it in an anonymized form (or so they claim) to advertisers. You either get an e-mail service where you can pay for privacy or you sacrifice your privacy to get e-mail for free. You can't have your cake and eat it too. There is no such thing as free lunch, even freetards pay a price for 'free stuff' it just isn't always money. It's amazing how hard it is for some people to understand that (general observation, not accusing number6x personally).

Re:Petittion of the Living Dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078051)

Google can rifle through your mail, harvest your personal data and sell it in an anonymized form (or so they claim) to advertisers.

WHERE have they ever claimed that? Google don't sell data to advertisers, anonymously or not. They show adverts to people. You might not like them showing adverts to you but that is not the same as selling anonymised data.

Re:Petittion of the Living Dead (1)

theVarangian (1948970) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078259)

Google can rifle through your mail, harvest your personal data and sell it in an anonymized form (or so they claim) to advertisers.

WHERE have they ever claimed that? Google don't sell data to advertisers, anonymously or not. They show adverts to people. You might not like them showing adverts to you but that is not the same as selling anonymised data.

Define personal data. When Google monitors my browsing habtis, concludes that I like to motorbikes and blondes and then includes my anonymized ID in a set of users they tell Harley Davidson are likely to respond to an ad with a blond sitting on a bike then IMHO that constitutes Google selling HD a bit of what I regard as personal data. Notably that I like motorbikes and blondes. Still, perhaps I could have phrased that statement better. Google sells access to services that use your harvested personal data to allow advertisers to draw conclusions about you personal preferences and habits. I only use g-mail for insignficant crap so they don't really get much out of rifling through my g-mail account. So g-mail is at least something that I can opt out of but g-mail is not the only way Google harvest personal data. Google track you wherever you go on the net whether you like it or not through their ads, through google-analytics, and that dumb google+ button and god knows how else. I knew this was going on but it was only after I installed Ghostery that I really began to realise just how much of it is going on. Google has become like some creepy stalker or paparazi that watches your every move and is impossible to get rid of.

Fear Mongering (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43077883)

So, Google can scan through emails anonymously and target ads based on that. Nothing new here at all. There is no tie to the actual account when it does this, and nobody is "reading my email". If, however, I'm not OK with algorithms parsing the email, I can just stop using the free service. Simple. And pointing to a settlement where Google paid out because it allowed Canadian pharmacy ads that were against US federal law has NOTHING to do with whether or not they are looking at your email.

This is just fear mongering, much like the Scroogled campaign is to begin with. There are 425 million gmail users according to wikipedia. Having 115,000 complaints is such a small percentage of their user base that it's not really worth talking about. 0.025% Bottom line is that it's an ad-supported platform, and they provide targeted ads that are more relevant. That may be beyond the comprehension of some users and it might make them feel that somehow the whole Scroogled FUD is real, in which case they can opt to use another service.

Re:Fear Mongering (1)

MtHuurne (602934) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078043)

From the start, GMail offered a lot of storage space in exchange for the ad bots looking at your mail to provide context sensitive ads. If people are not OK with their mail being scanned by the ad bots, why did they create a GMail account in the first place? I can imagine an outrage if the terms and conditions were changed after people signed up, but that is not the case here.

If it's free... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43077899)

You're the product, Microsoft or Google.

Fastmail is $5 a year. https://www.fastmail.fm/

Re:If it's free... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078015)

It's paid so it must be safe, right?

No such thing as free (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077903)

If you want to have more privacy, pay for your email account and services or host them yourself. I use my own email server so no scroogling.

Re:No such thing as free (3, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078089)

I use my own email server so no scroogling.

That's quite brilliant of you to never email someone with a gmail account. That must take a lot of diligence.

free market (4, Funny)

Sterculius (2856655) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077915)

In a free market, Google is allowed to use their customer's personal information in any way they see fit, and the magical hand of the free market will punish Google if they do something wrong. So if Google finds out by reading your Gmail that you are cheating on your partner, and they extort money from you, that is just free market capitalism at work -- nothing wrong with that. By the same token, Microsoft is allowed, by the free market, to characterize Google in any way they see fit. After all, these are big corporations. The free market dictates that they can do anything they like, and so can their customers. Everybody is free, the market is free, and in the end the world is perfect and everyone is rich and happy.

Re:free market (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078231)

Extortion is illegal. So, no.

Re:free market (3, Funny)

Sterculius (2856655) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078255)

The free market will take care of crime, so we don't need laws, you fucking Socialist. Stop trying to impose your Big Government welfare state on the free market.

0.3% signed the petition (5, Informative)

Branciforte (2437662) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077921)

Microsoft likes to brag that 115,000 people signed the petition (if we are to believe Microsoft). They also like to brag that 3.5 million people visited the site.

So that means the only 0.3% percent of the site visitors found Microsoft's argument compelling.

Re:0.3% signed the petition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078261)

That's not unprecedented. Numbers like that are good enough for the Republican Party to hold the economy hostage.

Re:0.3% signed the petition (1)

Kokkie (2291672) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078409)

So that means the only 0.3% percent of the site visitors found Microsoft's argument compelling.

To be correct: its 3%. Still low enough though to support your point.

really (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077925)

Does anyone really believe that Microsoft isn't selling free customer information in a similar way ?
I bet you a dime to a donut they are.
and after typing that last line I got a Dunkin Donuts add in Microsoft Bing how amazing.

Re:really (2)

whoop (194) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078133)

Is there a scroocrosoft.com domain? No. Therefore, Microsoft isn't scrooing anyone! Duh.

The computer cannot tell what's confidential (0, Troll)

J'raxis (248192) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077937)

It's more than just creepy; Google could get in some pretty big trouble if they scan confidential emails and start advertising products based on keywords therein. Imagine someone is communicating with a lawyer or some public official about a confidential matter and suddenly they start getting advertising that could only be relevant based on keywords found in those confidential emails. Google could be in for a lawsuit or even prosecution depending on what they get caught snooping on. What's their defense going to be, only Googlebot knew about your emails to that defense attorney or social worker or abuse counselor, not an actual human being? Good luck with that.

Re:The computer cannot tell what's confidential (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43077957)

Wait, you didn't read ToS, didn't know it's not a confidential method of communication, and it's someone else's fault?

What's next, sending "@my_doctor woot my gonorrhea got better" tweet and then suing Twitter because you thought @ makes a private message?

Re:The computer cannot tell what's confidential (3, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078039)

Any lawyer, doctor, or otherwise professional dealing with confidential information should use a private email service. They should also advise clients to do the same. Failure of the client to do so is thier fault. And snail mail options do still exist.

Re:The computer cannot tell what's confidential (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078159)

Do you think every email provider is going to 'get in some pretty big trouble' because their spam filters scan all those confidential emails too? In fact, do you think at all? This is just stupid.

Re:The computer cannot tell what's confidential (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078233)

confidential emails

Well I can see your problem: you seem to think there is such a thing as a "confidential email".

Email is the equivalent of sending a postcard: the content is there for everyone who handles it to see.

Microsoft is just upset (1)

Muramas95 (2459776) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077985)

Microsoft is just upset that no one wants to Scroogle them

Google is helping me (1, Funny)

Sterculius (2856655) | about a year and a half ago | (#43077993)

I personally love the fact that Google targets useful ads to me based on my email conversations. It is like having a personal concierge catering to my every whim!

Now, how does that saying go again? (1)

QilessQi (2044624) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078041)

"First they ignore you..."

I take it Microsoft don't do it either, yes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078053)

But that would mean no spam protection other than location-based identification.

How is this different than a doctor's office? (4, Interesting)

Stewie241 (1035724) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078065)

How is this different from a drug company approaching a doctor and saying 'Hey, I have this medication that can help people undergoing cancer treatment with their nausea.' Then the doctor, who has the personal information of his/her patients, makes targeted suggestions. Do you think the doctor recommends that medication to people with strep throat? Probably not. It's targeted. The drug company is not given any personal information.

Of course - there is a difference - the doctors are not allowed to accept money from the drug companies. The reason for that is because you want the medical advice given by your medical professionals to be unbiased and not slanted by money paid to them by drug companies, because you need to be able to trust that your doctor has your best interests at heart.

Neither Google nor Microsoft have any such relationship with their clients. People do not expect Google's advertisements or Microsoft's advertisements to be sound medical advice. The relationship is pretty transparent and I'm pretty sure everybody knows at least vaguely how those ads got there. But the same situation applies - Google is not passing personal information along to drug companies - they are merely pushing the ads out to those clients that meet certain criteria. Google's advertisers are not being given the personal information.

Re:How is this different than a doctor's office? (2)

N1AK (864906) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078291)

Of course - there is a difference - the doctors are not allowed to accept money from the drug companies. The reason for that is because you want the medical advice given by your medical professionals to be unbiased and not slanted by money paid to them by drug companies, because you need to be able to trust that your doctor has your best interests at heart.

But many are more likely to attend conferences in nice locations with decent perks etc where companies advertise their new drugs; I know people who work in this field and it is way more ethically murky than I'll ever be comfortable with.

Re:How is this different than a doctor's office? (1)

Stewie241 (1035724) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078379)

Well, sure, there is that. I'm curious as to whether there actually is a feedback loop there. i.e. if the junkets are tied to the doctor actually recommending the drug or if they are merely a means of getting information about their drugs into the hands of doctors and the doctors are free to either recommend or not without effect on future junkets.

MS admit being dumb is good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078123)

I got my hotmail account a LONG time ago (yeah yeah, laugh away!), it's an easy and memorable address. I didn't quite manage to grab the same name for Gmail, but looking back I'm quite pleased about it.

Why? Because Microsoft just aren't that smart. They don't know how to suck all the possible marketing juice out of the billions of emails in their hotmail accounts, and I like it that way.

I'd bet for example that deleted hotmail emails stop getting backed up after a few months, but Google will still have them in 100 years.

My problem with Scroogled (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078227)

My problem with the Scroogled ad campaign is that they make it sound like there's an actual person at Google who is reading people's e-mails, taking notes about them, and then telling advertisers this information. "We'll put your add for hemorrhoid cream on Thomas Smith's screen. He recently e-mailed his brother, Reginald Smith, mentioning about pain he experienced while sitting down. Just to cover all bases, we'll also put your lower back balm ad there too."

Instead, Google's computers build up a profile about the person based on the content of their e-mail. When advertisers buy ads on keywords, those ads are targeted based on the user's profile. There's no human reading the e-mail and the advertisers don't know whose specific screen their ads are appearing on.

Microsoft is exaggerating the situation and inferring that it is worse than it actually is in order to scare people away from Google. (While likely doing the exact same thing that Google is doing.)

Scroogle shmoogle (1)

paiute (550198) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078245)

I still trust Google way more than I trust Microsoft.

This is Google's business model. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078295)

Google offers us a ton of free services because we are Google's product. Google lets us use the services and in turn we let them use our personal information to make advertising targeting profiles, and those profiles are sold to advertisers. This is not new. Google is not your friend, they are a business. I like Google and use a lot of their products, but I don't fool myself into thinking we're bff.

Stupid marketing. (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078347)

Whether or not Microsoft is making a legitimate point is irrelevant. This is clearly a marketing campaign and will be perceived as much. From the perspective of the vast majority of consumers Microsoft is no different than Google. Potentially worse, in fact, because of Microsoft's history. We can get into a whole debate about whether or not some of that perception is deserved, but this too is irrelevant. So in the eyes of most Microsoft is likely engaging in similar activities, regardless of what the reality may be.

There is another problem here, however. Either Microsoft's management, their marketing department or their advertising agency seems intent on portraying the company as hip. From the dancing Surface commercials, to the Windows Phone celebrity spots, to this dorky Scroogled campaign it all feels tacky and reeks of trying way too hard. They're trying to turn their brand into the kind of lifestyle brand that people perceive as cool and desirable. The problem is that it can't be forced. That and it's been shown that consumers don't respond well to attack ads.

The irony to all these stupid campaigns is that your average consumer still isn't fully aware of what Microsoft has to offer. So instead of focusing on the basics, the stuff that could actually motivate consumers, they're wasting time and money on nonsense. Whoever is in charge of marketing at Microsoft is not only seriously overpaid but probably should be fired.

Re:Stupid marketing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43078475)

MS and tacky marketing? Inconceivable! [youtube.com]

PS: Bonus feature: "World's first cyber-sitcom!" [youtube.com]

keyword based ads is not a privacy invasion (1)

voss (52565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43078461)

As long as the individual information is not shared with anyone.

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