Microsoft has started what has been dubbed a "Scroogled" campaign, hitting out at Google's use of algorithms to scan Gmail users' messages and serve ads based on the keywords they find there. Microsoft sees this as safe territory and has criticised Google for doing this in the past.
Dusting off its old tactics, Microsoft has commissioned a study which claims to show how consumers feel about seeing ads based on what's in their personal inboxes.
The Gfk Roper study of 1,006 participants said that a vast majority, 89 percent, do not think that e-mail services providers should be allowed to scan the content of personal e-mail in order to target advertising.
Stefan Weitz, Microsoft's senior director of online services, said that the survey participants were skewed a bit more to the 18-to-34 age demographic most likely to use e-mail.
Google sighed and dusted off its usual response. It confirmed that it's been scanning e-mails with advertising algorithms since the beginning of the service and that it's made its practices clear.
If users want to get rid of ads, they are free to pay Google $50 for the professional version of its Web mail service, just as Outlook.com users can pay $20 to stop seeing ads on their inboxes. But to keep e-mail free, the company said, advertising has to be part of the equation.
Google spokeswoman Samantha Smith said that advertising keeps Google and many of the Web sites and services Google offers free of charge. Anyway no human reads your email.
As part of its Scroogled campaign, Vole is gathering signatures for a petition titled "Tell Google to stop going through your ads." Weitz said that the company has yet to decide what it will do with the petition, which has a target of 25,000 signatures. So far it has the grand total of 800.