"Private" Messages

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Spiral Out
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"Private" Messages

Post by Spiral Out » July 20th, 2013, 10:36 am

The question is for Scott, this site's administrator.

Are our "private" messages subject to scanning by this site's keyword recognition software for the purposes of advertising?
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Scott
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Re: "Private" Messages

Post by Scott » July 20th, 2013, 5:52 pm

The Google ad code does scan the text of the page on which the ad is displayed to determine the subject of ads. For instance, if you were viewing a page on this site on which the most common word was car, then it would be more likely that an ad to buy a car or car-related service such as driver's insurance would appear on that page. The ad code is in javascript but I believe the text of the page is actually searched via a bot, meaning Google could not see text that is only available to someone when logged in as a certain user. Thus, if there were Google ads on pages displaying private messages, I think Google would not be able to see the text on that page and wouldn't be able to automatically scan it to find a relevant ad. But I am not completely sure. In any case, it is moot to the question asked since there are no ads on the private messages pages, so no they are not scanned to find ads.

The keyword-based search index also does not index private messages, as there is no option to conduct a keyword search on private messages.

However, any sense of true privacy in regard to so-called "private messages" on webforms is misplaced in my opinion. Any adware on a user's own computer could scan the text of any webpage that person views, including the text of private messages or emails viewed on that computer. Similarly, ones own ISP can see all the text, emails and webpages that one sees. It's now recently known for sure that these ISPs share this information completely with the US government, which they did so secretly. Maybe they or the government also secretly share this data to advertisers.
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Spiral Out
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Re: "Private" Messages

Post by Spiral Out » July 20th, 2013, 6:28 pm

Thanks for your reply Scott.
Scott wrote:In any case, it is moot to the question asked since there are no ads on the private messages pages, so no they are not scanned to find ads.
I got an ad on the forum's main page in the lower left hand corner that specifically related to something I wrote in a private message and that I did not otherwise perform any general searches for in any browser window.

Either way, I'm aware that the "private" in "private messages" is not to be taken as anywhere near an absolute quality.

Thanks.
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Scott
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Re: "Private" Messages

Post by Scott » July 20th, 2013, 10:51 pm

It could also come from any websites you or someone else using your computer have visited in the past. For instance, if you simply went to a website about furniture you might then the next day while being on this site see an ad for a new couch. It could also be a coincidence. If you want to forward any information about the topic/ad to me I can see if that will give me anything more to offer on the matter.

Perhaps you could test it out by sending me or some other agreed person a bunch of messages about something in particular that would be sure to have related ads, like cruises/vacations or debt consolidation, and then browsing Google or the main pages of this site to see if the ads change to something related to that.
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Re: "Private" Messages

Post by Spiral Out » July 21st, 2013, 6:54 am

Thanks Scott. I'll devise a test that will determine what information those ads are being generated from.
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