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War of Words: Microsoft vs. Google

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Google Vs. Microsoft

 

For those who aren't aware of it yet, Google recently announced that it would be making some changes in its privacy policy. Under these changes, Google will consolidate more than 60 privacy policies into one document. In other words, there will only be one privacy policy for several Google products, including Gmail, Calendar, Search, YouTube, and more.

Set to take effect on March 1st, this change will give Google the right to combine information that you've provided from one service with information from other services. According to Google, these changes will improve search, because they'll be able to get to know you better, figure out what you really mean when you type in ambiguous terms such as "Jaguar" (which could either mean the animal or the car) or "Pink" (which could either mean the color or the singer).

Most importantly though, this new privacy policy will also affect the ads that Google displays. This means that if you start sending emails about pizza from Gmail, then you could potentially starting seeing pizza ads on Google Search or on YouTube. This of course, raised a lot of eyebrows in the tech industry and blogosphere, and one of the strongest reactions came from Microsoft.

Earlier this week, Marketing Land wrote about a recent ad by Microsoft that's slamming Google for putting their interests first, over users. The ad, which is entitled, "Putting People First," ran in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and USA Today.

You can view it on The Official Microsoft Blog here, or read the full text of the advert below:

Google is in the process of making some unpopular changes to some of their most popular products. Those changes, cloaked in language like "transparency," "simplicity" and "consistency," are really about one thing: making it easier for Google to connect the dots between everything you search, send, say or stream while using one of their services.

But, the way they're doing it is making it harder for you to maintain control of your personal information. Why are they so interested in doing this that they would risk this kind of backlash? One logical reason: Every data point they collect and connect to you increases how valuable you are to an advertiser.

To be clear, there's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to improve the quality of an advertising product. But, that effort needs to be balanced with continuing to meet the needs and interests of users. Every business finds its own balance and attracts users who share those priorities. Google's new changes have upset that balance, with users' priorities being de-prioritized. That's why people are concerned and looking for alternatives.

If these changes rub you the wrong way, please consider using our portfolio of award-winning products and services

The ad then proceeds to name four Microsoft products, including Hotmail, Bing, Office 365, and Internet Explorer.

The drama doesn't stop there though (in fact, it's just beginning). After a few hours of the ad going live, Google shot back with a blog post entitled, "Busting myths about our approach to privacy." In the said post, the search giant refuted the points listed in Microsoft's ad.

For instance, when Microsoft said: Google's Privacy Policy changes make it harder for users to control their personal information, Google responded with the following:

Our privacy controls have not changed. Period. Our users can: edit and delete their search history; edit and delete their YouTube viewing history; use many of our services signed in or out; use Google Dashboard and our Ads Preferences Manager to see what data we collect and manage the way it is used; and take advantage of our data liberation efforts if they want to remove information from our services.

Additionally, when Microsoft said: Google is changing our Privacy Policy to make the data we collect more valuable to advertisers.

Google responded with: The vast majority of the product personalization Google does is unrelated to ads—it's about making our services better for users. Today a signed-in user can instantly add an appointment to their Calendar when a message in Gmail looks like it’s about a meeting, or read Google Docs within their email.

Google's "myth busing" goes on further, and if you wish to read the full text of their blog post, you can do so here. Marketing Land also has an excellent post that fact checks the claims made by both companies.

However, in the midst of this spat between the two tech giants, the main question remains: Should you really be concerned with what Google is doing with its privacy policy? The short answer is it depends. As Danny Sullivan said, users can always opt out of the privacy policy (although it may take some digging to do it.)

What about Microsoft? Should you switch to Bing and Hotmail to get the privacy that you desire? Well, it turns out Microsoft is doing pretty much the same thing as Google. Sullivan pointed out that Microsoft’s Windows Live account also has a master privacy policy and terms that rules over your relationship with their products.

The bottom line is neither Google nor Microsoft is a saint when it comes to privacy. Remember that these two companies run businesses and their interests will always make their way into the products and policies that they put out there.

It basically boils down to which company you trust more; Google or Microsoft?


Image credit: michperu on Flickr

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About the author
Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio
Francesca is the founder of Credible Copywriting and has written for several organizations, including Internet start-ups, advertising agencies, and small businesses, just to name a few. She has helped individuals and entities put their names and messages out there by producing quality works in the form of articles, web content, video scripts, and more. Touch base with her at: francesca@crediblecopywriting.net or visit her website at: http://crediblecopywriting.net. - Read more stories from .