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Microsoft's Scroogled campaign  (Source: CNN)
The campaign tells email users that Google scans all sent and received emails for advertisement keywords

Microsoft is taking a serious jab at Google's Gmail service in a new campaign called "Don't Get Scroogled by Gmail."

Microsoft's "Scroogled" campaign is an effort to draw new customers to its own email service, Outlook -- and plans to do so by informing Internet users nationwide of Gmail's practices.

Microsoft is telling the nation that Google scans each email that is sent and received through the Gmail service for keywords that can help it target users with more accurate advertisements. Microsoft even commissioned a study, conducted by GfK Roper, where 70 percent of users were unaware of Google's email scanning and 88 percent disapproved of it once they knew.

“Emails are personal — and people feel that reading through their emails to sell ads is out of bounds,” said Stefan Weitz, senior director of Online Services at Microsoft. “We honor the privacy of our users, and we are concerned that Google violates that privacy every time an user exchanges messages with someone on Gmail. This campaign is as much about protecting users from Gmail as it is about making sure Gmail users know what Google’s doing.”

Microsoft will spread the news and its new word "Scroogled" all over TV, Internet and print advertisements. It even launched a petition to stop going through user emails for the sake of ad sales, where it has received nearly 600 signatures of the required 25,000 at the time this article was written.

Microsoft was even nice enough to offer a few examples of Google's practices.

"For example, if you write a friend to let her know you are separating from your husband, Google sells ads against this information to divorce lawyers, who post ads alongside it," said Microsoft. "Or if you ask a friend for vacation suggestions, Google uses this information to target you with ads from travel agencies or airlines that want your business."

There has been some tension between the two tech companies, as Microsoft cried "antitrust" over a YouTube snub last month. More specifically, the Redmond, Wash. tech giant was upset that Windows Phone still could not get a full YouTube app while the competition (Android and iOS) were able. It added that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was not doing enough to force Google to conform to antitrust laws (Google got out of a two-year FTC investigation with only a slap on the wrist). 

Also, Google had filed a patent claim with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) against Microsoft that would stop the Windows giant from applying video compression technology to the Xbox video game console. While it dropped this patent claim against Microsoft last month, others are still pending. 

You can check out Scroogled here.

Source: Microsoft

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Most people don't know
By mattwallaert on 2/7/2013 12:06:05 PM , Rating: 5
(NOTE: I work as a behavioral scientist at Bing, so please view my comments accordingly.)

The nice thing about science is that we can actually look at what average people think, instead of having to assume. And it turns out this isn't as dead of an issue as some journalists seem to think.

More than 60% don't know that GMail scans their email to target ads.

Almost 90% disapprove, feel it is an invasion of privacy, and think it shouldn't be allowed.

We forget sometimes that those who work with technology professionally don't always have the same views as everyday people. And we shouldn't get to make decisions wholesale for everyone else. Free options that don't scan emails exist (yes, like and people should know they exist and be allowed to choose.

Why would anyone argue against people making an informed choice?

RE: Most people don't know
By synoptic12 on 2/7/13, Rating: -1
RE: Most people don't know
By NellyFromMA on 2/7/2013 12:31:10 PM , Rating: 3
This sounds like something that would be said when someone does like the outcome of a given study. I don't ever really see anyone apply this logic otherwise.

no disrespect here either, just saying its ironic.

RE: Most people don't know
By synoptic12 on 2/7/13, Rating: -1
RE: Most people don't know
By pfloyd09 on 2/7/2013 12:25:50 PM , Rating: 2
No argument about people making an informed choice. In that spirit, please inform the public about how Microsoft obtains details about people to use targeted ads, just like Google. Please also tell us what Microsoft does with all the data mined from Bing. Please also tell us about how Microsoft provides a plethora of free, robust services that are only there to serve mankind without any desire or motivation to profit from such endeavors.

You are just wanting to inform people, right? No intention of slanting things to make your employer look better, right?


RE: Most people don't know
By Reclaimer77 on 2/7/13, Rating: -1
RE: Most people don't know
By nikon133 on 2/7/2013 3:29:21 PM , Rating: 2
Let him reach 2 first...

RE: Most people don't know
By gmyx on 2/7/2013 1:03:26 PM , Rating: 3
He would but he can't find the results in the Bing search.

RE: Most people don't know
By nafhan on 2/7/2013 12:50:51 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like you'd be the perfect person to answer this question then: Does MS webmail use targeted ads? In other words, does MS "scan" email as well?

I assume some amount of scanning takes place in order to enable inbox search (I understand that data wouldn't necessarily get used for advertising purposes).

Anyway, thanks for commenting and noting your possible conflict of interest and providing relevant info! I appreciate it. Very cool.

RE: Most people don't know
By sprockkets on 2/7/2013 1:21:54 PM , Rating: 4
The fact that Google scans email is quite clearly stated. It says so when you click "why these ads." In fact you can opt out of it very easy.

Face it. People ditched hotmail caused it royally sucked. Only due to gmail did anyone else give anyone decent email storage and sending limits.

RE: Most people don't know
By Rukkian on 2/7/2013 2:02:41 PM , Rating: 2
Not that I regularly look at the ads, but would rather have ads that may be relevent to me, then with other services where you see male enhancement or female weight loss all the time, neither of which are relevent to me and what I have in my inbox.

RE: Most people don't know
By inperfectdarkness on 2/9/2013 5:52:59 AM , Rating: 3
I've been using hotmail for 15 years. I've never had complaints about it...other than having to re-adjust to the interface every couple of years. I don't trust google at all.

RE: Most people don't know
By sprockkets on 2/11/2013 12:02:10 AM , Rating: 2
I actually left hotmail for yahoo - at the time their spam filters actually worked. And they could be easily used on the old PalmOS platform via pop.

I left yahoo for gmail since I didn't have to pay for pop/imap access. I still have it but don't use it.

RE: Most people don't know
By GotThumbs on 2/7/13, Rating: -1
RE: Most people don't know
By majorpain on 2/7/2013 2:30:43 PM , Rating: 2
So MS didn't use MSN or windows live messenger to spy on users and give them those gorgeous adds at the bottom of the contact list? Weird, everytime i visit some kind of ecommerce i get a similar product on the add.
Everybody hates corruption, everybody knows who does it and just can't do or wont do anything about it.
Really don't care if google is using information or not, as i don't care that MS is doing it also. But coming to public with this kind of campaign, is very poor, as is your comment.
I used for more than 14 years, but is the worst thing MS did in the last years, and like someone said here, i get inbox spam and phishing everyday, something i really get in spam box with gmail. So, sorry, but i feel safer with gmail, and keep my eyes from bleeding with spam and phishing. will be a no go for me, sorry.
P.S.- Information is there, but everyone seems to work hard to hide the things they think it should be underground, MS does it too. No argue there.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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