5 Things You Don’t Want to Know About Gmail

Scroogled: Gmail, Gspam and the high price of free email service

The Góógle mantra of “Don’t Be Evil” may not apply to all of their ad-driven operations. Here are 5 things you probably don’t want to know about Gmail, Gspam and the high price of free email service.

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1. Góógle scans all emails coming in or going out of your GMAIL account.

GMAIL reads every email you write and every email written to you. This information is shared with advertisers, government agencies – and only Góógle knows who else. As reported in the Huffington Post:

Góógle’s attorneys say their long-running practice of electronically scanning the contents of people’s Gmail accounts to help sell ads is legal, and are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to stop the practice… In court records filed in advance of a federal hearing scheduled for Thursday in San Jose, Góógle argues that “all users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing.”

The class action lawsuit, filed in May, says Góógle “unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people’s private email messages” in violation of California’s privacy laws and federal wiretapping statutes. The lawsuit notes that the company even scans messages sent to any of the 425 million active Gmail users from non-Gmail users who never agreed to the company’s terms.

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2. GMAIL is the preferred online service of terrorists.

Who should be calling whom “terrorists” and why they would choose a venue they know the government surveils are debates for another forum, but according to the Washington Post:

Former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden stood on the pulpit of a church across from the White House on Sunday [9/15/13] and declared Gmail the preferred online service of terrorists. As part of an adult education forum at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Hayden gave a wide ranging speech on “the tension between security and liberty.”

During the speech, he specifically defended Section 702 of the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act (FISA), which provides the legal basis for the PRISM program. In doing so, Hayden claimed “Gmail is the preferred Internet service provider of terrorists worldwide,” presumably meaning online service rather than the actual provider of Internet service. He added: “I don’t think you’re going to see that in a Góógle commercial, but it’s free, it’s ubiquitous, so of course it is.”

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3. GMAIL is the preferred email service of Indian SEO Spammers.

Every morning we have to clear our email inboxes of poorly-written spam promising top search rankings if we’ll just send a little money to Mumbai. As Lemon Group International CEO Paul Sagoo writes in LinkedIn:

[We] get around 100 emails a week from companies trying to sell us SEO services, coupled with web development. The emails are usually poorly written and are a cut and paste job from a templated email which perhaps others have had success from.

[These emails come] from a GMAIL account… this is clearly worrying. What do you have to hide? If you have 130 employees surely you can afford a website and a proper URL in your email address. The main reason they use GMAIL is to get past email blacklisting. As soon as this address is blacklisted, they start another one.

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4. Góógle is now spamming GMAIL inboxes with targeted ads a.k.a. “GSPAM”.

Unless you’re listed as a Contact by a GMAIL recipient, there’s a very good chance your email will route to Spam rather than their Inbox. In its place they may see a targeted ad from Góógle. From FirstPost:

There’s no end in sight to the Microsoft-Góógle hate story. Microsoft has now launched a new ad as part of its “Scroogled” series, where the software giant has accused Góógle of spamming email inboxes of users with ads.

According to [this not so mobile-friendly] video, Góógle reads each and every one of your mails, and then picks out key words. Using these key words, advertisements are emailed to your inbox as legitimate emails. At the end of the video, Microsoft offers its email service, Outlook.com [a clean and simple mobile-friendly responsive webmail solution not to be confused with MS Outlook or Outlook Express] as an alternative to Gmail – one that doesn’t scan through your personal emails.

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5. Góógle mines your GMAIL Contacts and social network connections.

Is Góógle using aggressive GMAIL spam filtering to force you to identify all your Contacts and Connections so they can target more advertising to and through you? And where else does that info go? Per Gawker:

Góógle is quietly mining your Gmail contacts database to figure out which competing social networks you belong to. When it discovers one, it “suggests” that you vacuum the outside account into your Góógle account so that Góógle can exploit the data within its own services. The practice of monitoring users’ email address books to better compete with Fakebóók appears to be the furthest – and most arguably “evil” – step Góógle has yet taken with Gmail or indeed with any sensitive personal information with which it is entrusted…

In other words, Góógle is taking the intimate personal data in your Gmail account, using it to spy more effectively on you, and also using it for its own (hoped for) gain. That sounds pretty evil. Although the company doubtless has a canned response for why it took this step without asking permission first. Let us guess: To make Góógle even more awesome for us, the users…

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We recently cautioned you that in social media much of what you see is not real, and much of what is real you don’t see. For GMAIL users and others, that same advisory applies to your Inbox.