Monday 21 October, 2013
In the last year or so, the United States National Security Agency’s cover spy operations, which were leaked by former NSA employee Edward Snowden, have been big news. The news has hurt US tech giants, who willingly turned over information not only on Americans but international customers. But Microsoft, for one, is using the news to its advantage. Since November 2012, it has run its somewhat bizarre ‘Scroogled’ anti-Google campaign, and the news has added fuel to its fire.
The campaign focuses on how Google so readily shares your private information in an attempt to steer users away from the tech company and use Microsoft instead. The great irony is that Microsoft handed over your sensitive information to government spooks as well so it really doesn’t have a moral leg to stand on. Reports say that Outlook, SkyDrive, Skype and other Microsoft programs have been just as complicit. But nothing rhymes well with ‘Microsoft.’
Since late last year, ads have appeared online, in print and on television. The ads paint Google as a huge corporation that doesn’t care about your privacy. It only cares about the bottom line, and it will happily give out your information for monetary gain.
There’s a Scroogled website pretending to be an impartial news site that informs visitors of Google’s privacy trespasses. It looks like an activist site, complete with a petition you can sign. Quite conveniently, it also offers a look at some new Microsoft products you can use as alternatives if you decide to do away with Google. The site is really just selling Microsoft products in the dirtiest way possible.
The Scroogled campaign has attacked virtually every Google product. It went after Google Play for giving away your location, Gmail for scanning your emails, the Chrome web browser for syncing passwords – basically anywhere it could. Most recently, it sent messages telling users about GSpam, claiming that Google’s new Promotions Tab was a new way to spam you, sending fake personal emails that are actually ads. Quite a bit of hyperbolic language was used to paint the new feature as an evil plot.
Are the ads effective? Take a look at what the tech pundit bloggers are saying and you’ll see that it appears to hurt Microsoft more than Google. Negative ads are effective sometimes. For example, a tight political race could be decided by negative ads that strike a chord with voters. But these negative ads don’t seem to be working for Microsoft. They just make the company look petty.
What the Scroogled campaign really tells consumers is that Microsoft would rather use its money and resources to attack its biggest competitor instead of improving its own products, many of which could use the improvement. It says more about Google’s status as the king of the mountain than it does about Google’s dastardly ploys to exploit your private information.