Gmail accused of spamming users by Microsoft


After a six month hiatus, Microsoft has brought back its Scroogled campaign, this time accusing Google of spamming Gmail users’ inboxes with ads made to look like genuine emails.

The use of email-style ads was introduced when Google overhauled its Gmail user interface, separating emails into three categories – Primary, Social and Promotions.

The adverts Microsoft is hitting out at, dubbing them ‘Gspam’, appear in the promotions section, alongside items such as Groupon newsletters that users have signed up for.

While they are inline with the other emails, they are identified by a small ‘ad’ under the sender name and an information icon.

Google explained the changes to VentureBeat in an email, saying: “Instead of ads always appearing at the top of your inbox, they’ve been relegated to a more appropriate place in your Promotions category.

“In addition, we’ve raised the quality of these ads and won’t show you an ad unless it’s relevant – which means you may sometimes see no ads at all in your Promotions tab.

“You can also dismiss the ads you see in your Promotions tab by clicking the ‘X’ button on the right-hand side.”

However, this explanation has not stopped Microsoft from using some users’ disgruntlement to fire up its anti Gmail campaign once again.

In a new video, which on this occasion is hosted on Bing videos rather than YouTube as previous ones have been, Microsoft says that Google scans users’ emails looking for keywords in order to serve up ads.

It also claims that in doing so Google is not properly fulfilling the role of an email provider, which should protect users from spam.

“Once again, Google crosses the line,” the voiceover says. “They watch everything you do and use it to make a profit off of you.”

The tone of the video is very much in line with the anti-Gmail campaigns Microsoft produced earlier this year.

In February, the company accused Google of reading the content of users’ emails to generate targeted ads and started a petition against Gmail – which is still running – on its website.

The company is once again leveraging social media to try and build support for the campaign. Whereas in February, Microsoft started a Facebook page to promote Scroogled, it is now using the Twitter hashtag #scroogled to try and drum up support.

Microsoft also recently hit out at Google Apps, claiming the service is unable to conserve formatting from Office documents and that using it was a gamble.

Jane McCallion
Managing Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialize in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.