Google, Please Stop Prefilling My Email Into Ad Widgets

This probably doesn’t violate any laws, or even Google’s new privacy policy, but it is definitely creepy. If you search for “pet meds” on Google and you’re signed in, Google pre-fills your gmail address into the ad widget. That doesn’t mean they’ve automatically sent it to the advertiser – God help them if they did – but it sends the absolute wrong message to users about where Google’s priorities lie.

And for it to be happening now, while they are rolling out their new privacy policy and taking criticism from all over the world, is just dumb.

I go to Google to do searches. I don’t go there to do social networking, but they thrust that into my face. And I certainly don’t go to Google to have it pre-fill personal information into advertisements for me. Stop it.

48 thoughts on “Google, Please Stop Prefilling My Email Into Ad Widgets

  1. Max Woolf says:

    Why are you still using a Gmail.com address? Get a mike@uncrunched.com address with Google Apps! :P

    • Keith says:

      I was thinking of getting my company’s email with Google Apps but all this privacy policy change made me put it on hold. I am using gmail less and less, in favor of my old hotmail and yahoo accounts. I am a big fan of Google, but I just don’t like them tracking my every move. I think, in the long run, this obsession with boosting G+ will hurt them.

  2. Amen! I like Google less and less as the days go by.

  3. unastronomer says:

    Yeah definitely don’t like this. The ads that show in my gmail account based on my personal emails is starting to freak me out too. Guess that’s what I get for using free email service but still…am I being paranoid in my thinking that companies like Google, Facebook, etc. are getting a little too “big brotherish”?

    • David Callahan says:

      … I would say “devilish.” — it’s about money and of course greed. I use Bing now…

    • Daniel says:

      google is definitely becoming big brotherish. facebook is, but they’re not violating our privacies the same way google is. google uses the demographic information we give them to provide us with ads, but google scans your gmail…. seriously?

      also, i find it a little amusing that you say “using free email service”. You make it sound like google’s gmail is the only, or one of the only, “free” email services on the web…

      There’re are many other alternatives to gmail such as yahoo and hotmail that are also free. they give ads as well, but at least they don’t scan your emails. yahoo and MS use demographic information (the personal info you enter upon account creation) for its ads. read this article for more info http://www.loosewireblog.com/2004/05/hotmail_yahoo_d.html

  4. Surprised that you just dont use AdBlock Plus to block the google ads out.

  5. Edd Withers says:

    Isn’t that just what most browsers do automatically?

    • Exactly. I don’t understand all this whining and “oh-my-gods” in comments. How does that differ from plain browser form auto-filling feature?

      • dudefrommangalore says:

        It is different in a way that browser auto-filling does not happen automatically on all forms on the web page. It auto-fills when I start typing in the field. Here it was automatically pre-filled.

  6. meech says:

    To me, this is not that big of a deal. Let these web companies create new revenue streams, that way, folks wont have to start complaining when Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc start charging for everything.

  7. Jay Zalowitz says:

    Mike,

    This may be annoying to you, but for someone who has crippling injuries that makes it hard to type, or my grandmother, this is an incredible time saver.

  8. Doug Nichols says:

    What Atul said. I didn’t even know there were ad widgets to begin with.

  9. Sean says:

    Don’t see the issue here, you are a man of “the valley”, you know how this stuff works, and as you mentioned they don’t submit your address just pre-fill the boxes in case you decide to do so. Also I don’t see it so it’s probably a limited test.

  10. Toby J says:

    Holy crap… I’ve stuck up for Google through a lot lately; I think the whole Search Plus Your World tempest-in-a-teapot was ridiculously overblown… but yeah, this is just creepy and dumb.

  11. Tim says:

    I am accepting of a limited Android phone by removing google from it. I am simply unable to allow a sophisticated advertiser to ride along with me in my back pocket and observe everything I do all day for the purpose of exploiting it to my detriment. It’s really going to be tough, but good bye, Google!

    • DM says:

      “exploiting it to my detriment” –> what detriment are you being caused? Seeing targeted ads vs un-targeted ones? Getting the option of accessing free services vs paid ones?

  12. Matt says:

    You could just click the ad a few times to cost them if it’s a PPC campaign. ;-)

  13. Bedros says:

    I hate it when I logout from facebook and then visit some websites, and they still show my FB profile photo;

    Google is following facebook’s frictionless philosophy which is very creepy.

  14. Guillermo says:

    Looks like this feature should be opt-in rather than populated by default

  15. Jake says:

    Google didn’t just start doing this. They started testing it months ago and TechCrunch wrote about it back in December.

    http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/29/google-testing-new-email-subscription-ad-format/

  16. Gregory says:

    Hmm… strange! I do not get this at leat when signed in … Strange

  17. lillyhanscom says:

    I like turtles

  18. Peter Urban says:

    wow, this is bold of google. I wonder when those kinds of ‘tricks’ will start to seriously recoil.

  19. areyoukiddingme2012 says:

    Yeah, this is easily taken care of with Adblock and Abliene DNT. I’ve never seen an Ad on Facebook and I’ve been on there over 5+ years. Never seen an ad on Google either.

  20. Jon says:

    Big deal. You have to press the “Submit” button (which your graphic does not show, but it is under the balloon). It is very explicit.

  21. dwiz says:

    Abliene DNT?

    I live in the southern hemisphere, so how will the following help me with ‘net privacy?

    Showing results for Abilene DENTAL
    Search instead for Abliene DNT
    Abilene Dentist – Abilene Dental – Dentist Abilene, TX
    http://www.abilenedental.com/
    ….etc
    Nothing on various spelling such as adliene, adeline etc.

  22. Oh it’s like an opt in box for the entire internet. Just what I always wanted. Does it apply to all search terms? Not sure how pleasant it is to get offers when you search for things like “funeral homes”.

  23. Sajib says:

    Reblogged this on AIS Journal and commented:
    Yesterday I posted about Google’s new privacy policy and what it means to you. Today, I found this on Uncrunched, a personal blog run by TechCrunch’s founder Michael Arrington, where he said something that exactly reflects my mind. Google is just overdoing with people’s privacy. As Michael puts it, while the information may not be sent to the advertiser yet, it’s just creepy to see my gmail address pre-filled in that box.

  24. Pranaya says:

    It is understandable that Google is trying out new avenues for revenue, but this should definitely be an opt-in first.

  25. Aviv says:

    Creepy? I can understand disconcerting, but after you think about it for five seconds, it makes sense if you’re signed in. I think that’s why the name field isn’t populated. More people would probably be creeped out by that, even though the email field is just as “bad”.

    I just did the same search and got the same ad, FWIW.

  26. jrs says:

    Did anyone read Google’s privacy policy? I stopped after being circuitously drawn away from what I was looking for – a clear explanation of what it was – after clicking through to about 10 or 15 pages. I’ve started to browse using Firefox and have done more searches on Yahoo recently. This may or may not help, but it seems to be to get away from the sketchy & greedy little hands of Google.

  27. Phil says:

    What… I think they’ve had this for like over a year?

  28. Keith says:

    I stopped using Gmail as my primary not long after they auto-enrolled me into GoigleWave. Now I just use it as my spam email–when I have to give my email to a site I’m not sure of.

  29. Marck V. says:

    I’m using one or two ad blockers and I disable browser form filling. Never had that problem.

  30. I have to agree to this blog. the way google moves is worrying. From where I stand, this is not the way to go.

  31. I don’t see the big deal. Your info doesn’t get sent anywhere, this doesn’t “track” you in any fashion, and its not really any different than your browser trying to auto populate things to help you out. Seems like a non issue to me.

  32. livingvirtual says:

    It’s sad to say..IT companies are moving away from their policies. God knows what’s gonna be asked next.

  33. Anton says:

    Google is acting more like a government now doing the hidden important thing while doing screen (umbrella, blind) thing in front. The first thing is to cut out their ad noise by using p2p open source adblock. Be safe yourself, save others.

  34. JCW Press says:

    “….but it sends the absolute wrong message to users about where Google’s priorities lie…..”

    I think its very clear where google’s priorities lie and how much they are focused on the user. That is, focused on what the user can contribute to thier bottom line. I can’t believe how far google is willing to take this latest journey down the road to customer disrespect.

  35. Aruba says:

    I like reading an article that can make people think.
    Also, thank you for allowing for me to comment!

  36. Lucas says:

    I’m guessing he’s not being serious. The “not be evil” line is the tell.

  37. ajf says:

    He’s facetiously pointing out hypocrisy. Think Path.

  38. Eric Eldon says:

    Mike, forget what MG said, install FB comments so I can like matt cutts.

  39. David Callahan says:

    “… this is done to help you, the user, to get more ads …” — why? Is it because it is “healthier” to be exposed to even more ads? — Stupid trolls…

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