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Google's AdWords: A "Grey Surveillance"?

By - January 06, 2009

Sent to me from Gary Price, a presentation on Adwords from the Berkman center: Google’s AdWords system serves ads alongside about a quarter of all web traffic. In the process of serving those ads, Google actively processes the user browsing data in order to target its advertising, making AdWords one of the world’s most extensive processors of personal data. Hal Roberts presents on how Google’s use of the AdWords data seeds a network of grey surveillance that may not have direct effects on the individual surveillance subjects but does have important effects on our modes of creating and consuming content online.

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8 thoughts on “Google's AdWords: A "Grey Surveillance"?

  1. nmw says:

    I only sorta listened to it with 1 ear (and that made it sound like newspeak ;) — will definitely need to listen again when I have more time to pay more ACHTUNG!

    ;D nmw

  2. How much data is google tracking on all of us?

  3. It’s been said once I put something on-line, I’ve documented it for eternity. It will be stored somewhere by somebody or something. Imagine if every move you make and every step you take get recorded for eternity. Wow… that’s kinda scary…. But guess what?….. Hhmmm…. I’m not trying to be the “Big brother” guy or the “conspiracy theory” guy, but sometimes ya just gotta pay attention and think. Anyhow, what we do on-line will be recorded somewhere by somebody until the eventual energetic anomaly that brings us all back to the beginning again happens and that will do more bad than good so… again….. Hmmmmm… I just don’t know. – Tom

  4. Diamonds says:

    A lot, they know your email, address, interests though searches and youtube uploads, etc…

  5. nmw says:

    OK, I’ve listened to it again while taking a walk outside — it’s definitely not for noobs. There are several points that are mispresented (e.g. @ 30 mins it’s said that pagerank counts links on each site as votes for interest in other sites — this is wrong, because pagerank [in theory] applies to webpages, not websites; also the “did you mean” [quasi-spell-check] algorithm was referred to as the page-rank algorithm [@ ca. 41:45]). It seemed to be a mixed bag of various tidbits that might in some way be related to the intersection of “Google” and “Surveillance” — and unfortunately sloppy, but also — for people who can be forgiving with such naive sophmoric sloppiness — a lot of information). IMHO the most informative tidbit came at about 26:30 — a CNN webpage (Mr. Roberts said “the site”, but that is doubtful) was found by Googly to be related to “smart travel”, “dieting” and “airlines” (by “magic” ;) — and so smartertravel.com (the ad which won the bid) paid CNN.com 25 cents — “and Google keeps about 20% of that“.

    So all in all, I would also recommend this to people who are familiar with this space — but with the added caveat not to take what is said literally (because there are innumerable “sloppy mistakes”). It’s also entertaining to listen to students spice up their comments with a smattering of 50-cent words.

    ;D nmw

    ps: note also that the talk seems somewhat biased (e.g. whereas advertisers’ allocation of advertising budgets “makes absolutely no sense” [ca. 48 mins], Google is purported to “precisely track” something [?]) — and there is indeed mention of Berkman receiving financial support from Google(?)

  6. diseño web says:

    That’s seems like a hoax news…

  7. lift says:

    “Do No Evil”, eh? Scary stuff. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I think this ‘grey surveillance’ needs to be curbed at some point.

  8. Pat says:

    My freind and I explored this last summer when we were getting some disturbing add next to our Gmail messages. My friend was having an affair and he was targeted with ads to books and websites that offer advice on cheating. So becareful about what you email to people. The government may not be watching but Google is!

    http://www.epiphanyglass.com

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