SOUTHFIELD — Microsoft is launching a new front in its war on Google.
It’s a new national advertising campaign called “Don’t Get Scroogled,” designed to draw attention to the fact that Google scans the complete content of all emails of all users of its Gmail.com service to sell and target ads.
“We want to make sure people understand they are giving up their privacy when they use Gmail,” said Stefan Weitz, senior director of online services at Microsoft. “If people understand they are giving up their privacy and they wish to do so, that’s their choice. But we want to make sure they understand this is going on.”
Weitz said Google and its defenders contend that “people know about this, people get it. But we found out in our poll that this is simply not true.”
In a Microsoft commissioned poll, almost 70 percent of Americans either didn’t know the practice was going on, or didn’t believe it. And once they found out their mail was being scanned, 88 percent of Americans in the poll strongly disapproved of the practice.
As Microsoft said in a press release, ‘You wouldn’t let the Post Office open up and read through your mail; why would you let Google?’
Of course, the campaign is also designed to boost Microsoft’s competing free email service, Outlook.com, the new — and Microsoft says, improved — version of its longstanding Hotmail.com service.
“We offer a service that does not do this,” Weitz said. “Or you can pay $20 a year and get an email service that has no ads whatsoever.”
Weitz said a third of Outlook.com users are currently also Gmail users.
Weitz said “Don’t Get Scroogled” will be “a big campaign. It’ll be in the papers, online, in social media, on TV. We’re making sure people are making an informed choice.”
Also, Weitz noted, even if you don’t use Gmail, if you sent email to someone who does, your email will be scanned to generate advertising income.
There’s also a petition at scroogled.com asking Google to drop the practice.