If you use Google for search, Gmail for e-mail or an Android phone as your smart phone then, according to Microsoft, you’re getting “scroogled” daily! What exactly does that mean? Well, according towww.scroogled.com, it means that Google systematically uses your private information that it collects online through your search, your emails, your Android app store purchases and more to sell more ads.
And there’s no way to opt out.
Let me explain further how they do it with a few examples:
- Gmail: Google’s systems go through all of your personal Gmail emails ever sent and received looking for keywords they can use to target you with paid ads. So that email you just sent to your spouse, your child or whomever you just sent it to… Google is looking to see how they can use that to target you with advertisements. And 46% of users of the e-mail service don’t even know it. Great for advertisers. Not so great for your privacy.
- Google Android App Store: When you buy an Android app from the Google App Store, they give your full name, e-mail address and the neighborhood where you live to the app maker. This occurs without clear warning to you every time that you buy an app. That might be OK in a handful of instances, but it’s impossible to tell what the app maker might do with that information. App makers are spread all around the world and not all app makers are trustworthy.
Consumer Privacy Groups are up in arms about this blatant sharing of your personal information. A Consumer Watchdog Complaint to the Federal Trade Commission on Feb 25, 2013 said “The various applicable Google privacy policies promise not to share user information collected by Google outside of the company. The policies contain no exceptions that would justify Google’s disclosure to app developers of confidential user information.”
In full disclosure, the term “Scroogled” has recently been hyped up in a series of big marketing campaigns bashing Google’s services. So are these privacy concerns a bunch of marketing hype or real concerns to act on? That answer is really up to you.
So what to do now? Only you can determine how much you want to risk your own personal information in the hands of Google. The online world has an increasing number of security risks to consider these days and most of them don’t have anything to do with Google. How do you respond? Hopefully by being informed and making decisions based on real information and not because you didn’t know any better.