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Google is watching

I've just started using gmail as my regular email address.

Call me naive, but I'm dismayed to discover that it reads your email and advertises to you according to what you communicate about. I mentioned Rebecca Fine, Wallace Wattles, and "The Science of Getting Rich" in passing in an email to roseambr and here's what the sidebar looked like when I next looked:



Make $18,000 in One Day?
Act Fast Be The First In Your Area Automated + Residuals + No Selling.
www.YourLegacyMentors.com

What Law of Attraction?
How does it Really work? Learn the truth, avoid pitfalls
TheSecretLawOfAttractionSuccess.com

Free Think and Grow Rich
Audio Book plus Additional Personal Development Bonuses
www.FreeThinkandGrowRichMP3.com

...and so on.

So I sent this to myself at another address:

Subject: Loneliness
Text: I'm so happy to know you've found someone. I wish I could get a date! I'd like to meet a nice man, someone who likes the same kinds of things I do, and settle down. I've heard that online dating can be effective, but you're honestly the only person I know who has had success with it. Let me know what dating service you were using and how it all works.

Here's what my sidebar looks like now:

Signs He Likes You
Don’t Go Here Unless You’re Serious About Understanding Men!
www.Understand-How-Men-Think.net

Free Teen Dating Site
Browse Profiles and Make Your Own. Find a Local Hottie. Totally Free!
www.eSpin.com

Public Relations Mgmt.
Double Your PR Productivity with PR Software From Vocus. Free Demo!
www.vocus.com



That's just creepy.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
inalasahl
Sep. 9th, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, goodness, yes, it's terrible. Last December when I was on strike, my "real name" account was mostly e-mails about that, and all the ads were for anti-union websites. It was like being attacked every time I read my e-mail. I looked for a way to turn it off, but as far as I can tell, it's impossible.
emeraldsedai
Sep. 9th, 2008 08:40 pm (UTC)
Hell.

I'd pay actual money not to be advertised to in any way. Oh wait. I pay fifty freakin' dollars a month to have internet service.

Back to my offline mail client, Opera, I guess.
emeraldsedai
Sep. 11th, 2008 10:37 pm (UTC)
I've been thinking about this and realizing that while the sponsored links I see in my gmail window seem benign, it's such a short step to propaganda. The fact that you received anti-union propaganda is very disturbing.

And that isn't so much a privacy issue--after all, your union membership was more or less a matter of public record--as an issue of abuse of power. Big Brother watching you is one thing. Big Brother influencing you and browbeating you is quite another.
vampirefan
Sep. 9th, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC)
you know, i had noticed the ads but just barely 'cause i rarely click on advertising links. it *is* kinda creepy though...
emeraldsedai
Sep. 9th, 2008 11:08 pm (UTC)
I virtually never click on them myself--in fact, I've developed a visual filter where I don't even see them unless I'm specifically searching for something in Google.

But they're so...I dunno...apt...that they just sit there to the right of the mail window and go "see me...see meeeeee..."
tehomet
Sep. 9th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC)
I know!

Yesterday I was amused when a post notification thingie popped up in my gmail. It was a reply to one of my comments on your lj, and mentioned Dean Winchester. The ads then changed to reflect holidays in the Forest of Dean (which I think is in England)! :)

I will now shut up, but not before recommending Hushmail to you.
emeraldsedai
Sep. 9th, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC)
LOL!

Oh my God that's just hilarious. Though sobering, because as you say, you were posting a comment in my LJ, not even emailing me.

I was emailing back and forth today with owzers about SPN and "whether Dean can sing," and the next thing I know, there's an ad in the sidebar for--get this--Dean Martin CDs.

Dean Martin. *head explodes*
decemberleaf
Sep. 10th, 2008 12:43 am (UTC)
"Oh my God that's just hilarious. Though sobering, because as you say, you were posting a comment in my LJ, not even emailing me."

Sobering is right! What to do about it? Stop commenting? Damn!. Maybe. Maybe just pick up threads in another way: instead of commenting, simply post something eventually that relates to the original LJ entry?
emeraldsedai
Sep. 10th, 2008 12:58 am (UTC)
I think tehomet was probably posting her comment through a gmail interface. I always post directly into LJ (as I'm doing right now) and I think that's a little cleaner.

I've accepted that the concept of privacy is changing radically, and for the most part it doesn't strike me as a problem, except in adjusting to it.

But dang! I just found myself clicking on one of those eerily targeted sponsored links in my gmail. It's a black hole.
(Deleted comment)
emeraldsedai
Sep. 10th, 2008 02:37 am (UTC)
I have a yahoo account too, and I like it pretty well. In fact, it's the email address I use here on LJ.

The gmail trial is strictly experimental, and the jury's still out. It's not so much a privacy issue (because there's no such thing as privacy online anyawy) as it is an issue of being constantly advertised to, but it's all kind of an adjustment.

I think the generation coming up now--kids in their early teens--will be as mystified by our privacy concerns as they are by the terms "dial" and "Hang up" when referring to telephones.
(Deleted comment)
emeraldsedai
Sep. 10th, 2008 04:38 pm (UTC)
Hee!

I figure they're already there. Have been for years. I mean, Chrome may be better at behavior-tracking, but even IE could do it. And I've been online, in fandom, blogging, shopping, surfing and generally living my entire life on the internet, for years.

SRSLY, if the internet doesn't know me by now, I want a divorce.
(Deleted comment)
emeraldsedai
Sep. 10th, 2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
No, see, you have to work with the demon amazon's recommendation algorithm if you want it to love you properly. You have to feed it a rich diet of information, and reward it when it's right, by clicking on things. It thrives on clicks.

Eeep! Sorry! I've been sucked into Supernatural fic (kill me now) and there are a lot of demons in there, in several senses of the term.
(Deleted comment)
emeraldsedai
Sep. 10th, 2008 05:53 pm (UTC)
Well, there's only one Joss, and I hear he's busy, but yeah, the show ain't great literature. It is, in fact, mostly crap with a redeeming veneer of two angsty, doomed characters portrayed by extremely attractive young actors.

It has a lot in common with Due South in that regard, and like Due South (and, come to that, The X-Files), it gives rise to masses of very good fic for exactly that reason.

There's something to be said for a show that actually needs fic to round it out.
(Deleted comment)
emeraldsedai
Sep. 10th, 2008 08:58 pm (UTC)
My first reaction is that it's hard to imagine a language being more ambiguous than English, then I thought it through and realized that with its ginormous, earth-shattering vocabulary, English has the potential of being incredibly precise.

Sadly, hardly anyone can wield all that.

Yes, poorly-written shows (or books) with intriguing plots and characters, shows cancelled too soon, and--apparently--anything Japanese and spare, create a void that we reg'lar folks rush in to fill.

Thank you, God of the Internet.
lyrstzha
Sep. 11th, 2008 01:19 pm (UTC)
Whoa. That is seriously creepy. I was thinking of getting a gmail address, but I don't think I will now.
emeraldsedai
Sep. 11th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
Well, there's a lot to be said for gmail, and of course you don't have to click on the sponsored links.

I've decided not to be concerned about privacy, since privacy has been quietly eroding online since there was and online.

But it's still kind of strange to see the ads change with the subject matter of my various email threads.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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